Cellcos to spend $21b on 5G NR by 2025


Mobile operators will spend more than $21 billion on standardized 5G NR (New Radio) infrastructure by the end of 2025, according to SNS Research.

Despite the lack of sufficient LTE coverage in parts of the world, mobile operators and vendors have already embarked on R&D initiatives to develop 5G.

According to the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association), in the first quarter alone at least 25 operators from 15 countries have demonstrated 5G technologies, or announced 5G tests or trials.

Last week, South Korea's KT said it is in the final stages of testing for the 5G trial network that will support next year's Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, while Japanese counterparts KDDI and China Mobile also announced trials on pre-5G technologies.

With pre-standard 5G network deployments well underway, the research firm in March released an estimate, predicting mobile operators worldwide will spend more than $250 million on pre-standard 5G network rollouts by the end of 2017.

Although 2020 has conventionally been regarded as the headline date for 5G commercialization, the very first standardized deployments of the technology are expected to be commercialized as early as 2019 with the 3GPP's initial 5G specifications set to be implementation-ready by March 2018.

Between 2019 and 2025, SNS Research expects the standardized 5G NR infrastructure market to aggressively grow at a CAGR of approximately 70%, eventually accounting for over $21 billion in annual spending by the end of 2025.

The market will be complemented by additional investments of over $7 billion on NextGen (Next Generation) core and transport (fronthaul/backhaul) networking infrastructure, the research firm estimates.

SNS Research notes that 5G is expected to provide a single network environment to deliver not only existing mobile broadband and internet of things services, but also new innovations such as self-driving cars, cloud robotics, 3D holographic telepresence and remote surgery with haptic feedback.

The 3GPP agreed in March to accelerate some elements in the 5G NR timeline to allow operators to speed up deployment of 5G services.

The standard body set a December 2017 deadline to complete the non-standalone 5G NR specification process and finalize the spec by March next year. The move means non-standalone 5G NR products could be launched as early as 2019.

Non-standalone 5G NR mode will be designed to anchor a connection in LTE, using 5G NR carriers to improve data rates and reduce latency.

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