A new report from SNS Research predicts larger operators in the U.S. and South Korea are set to drive prestandard 5G deployment spending.
With a “5G” technology standard now making more progress through the Third Generation Partnership Project, operators are set to increase deployment spending on prestandard specifications, according to a new report from SNS Research.
The firm predicts mobile operators will spend more than $250 million this year on those prestandard 5G deployment launches, despite “the lack of sufficient LTE coverage in parts of the world.” The moves are said to be setting the table for operators in advanced mobile markets to support next-generation services and bolster revenues.
Operators in the U.S. and South Korea were noted as “spearheading early investments in prestandards 5G trial networks, which has been highlighted by highly publicized initiatives by the likes of AT&T, Verizon Communications, SK Telecom and KT. SNS said it expects investments to move from the radio access segment towards more advanced measures like network slicing.
Similar to other predictions, SNS said it expects early adopters to begin commercializing services in 2019, at which point 5G-based network spending is set to surge at a 70% compound annual growth rate through 2025, eventually hitting $28 billion in annual spending.
“These infrastructure investments will be complemented by annual shipments of up to 520 million 5G-capable devices,” the report forecasts.
The 3GPP earlier this month approved plans that could see standards-based mobile 5G services launched by the end of next year. The move included an agreement to work towards the non-standalone 5G New Radio mode in support of mobile broadband services to be finalized by March 2018.
The standard will require an anchored LTE deployment with the 5G NR carriers used to boost throughput speeds and cut network latency. The accelerated timeline is also expected to see some standards components needed for the development of supporting chipsets released by the end of this year.
As for a standalone option, which would not require the need for an already deployed LTE network core, 3GPP said it remained committed to completing a standard by September 2018. The 5G-specific core is expected to include a greater use of software virtualization technologies like software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and network slicing.
In terms of 3GPP’s release schedules, the initial 5G-related Release 15 specification is expected to be completed by mid-2018. The more fully formed Release 16 specification, which is set to include a focus on internet of things deployments, reliability and latency, is now expected to be ready by the end of 2019.
The Release 16 timing would seem to continue backing previous claims of true 5G networks being deployed commercially beginning in 2020.
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