5G networks will become mainstream by 2020, but Europe will lag behind Asia and the US, as operators seek to make the most of 4G. This is according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.
The company’s report forecasts that more than half of all mobile subscriptions will be 5G-capable in South Korea by 2022, compared with only around 7% in Europe.
Upin Dattani, senior manager – Europe for GlobalData Technology, said: “Some mobile markets, such as South Korea and Japan, are well-suited to 5G, with widespread fiber availability, small cell deployments, advanced 4G networks and supportive regulators.
“In Europe, operators are keen to obtain a good return on the substantial capital expenditure made in 3G and 4G investments. While European operators see benefits from more reliable and responsive next generation networks, technological progress will likely be at a more measured pace.”
Some pre-standard 5G network trials are being conducted in 2017 worldwide, with a few standardised, commercial services set to commence in 2018 and many more operators launching during the following two years.
5G will, for the first time, go beyond increased bandwidth and capacity, as was the focus in previous wireless generations, adding low latency, high density and high reliability.
These capabilities will enable a variety of use cases, opening the door to new, predominantly business-focused services such as self-driving cars and smart cities. 5G also supports the focus that many operators have in looking for new, adjacent revenue streams, including fixed-mobile integration, digital content and the Internet of Things.
Peter Jarich, chief analyst for GlobalData Technology, added: “Hopes are running high for the potential of 5G to truly transform mobile business models, and tap new revenue opportunities moving beyond consumers and into diverse digital industries. The implications go beyond any individual operator to impact national and regional competitiveness.
“Despite this, for all the efforts to fast-track early 5G deployments, it’s important to recognise that 5G rollouts will take years to complete; no region or country has won or lost the race to 5G yet.”