Mobile operators will spend more than $250 million on pre-standards 5G network rollouts by the end of 2017, according to SNS Research's latest report.
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, the next evolution in mobile networks.
5G is expected to provide a single network environment to deliver not only existing mobile broadband and IoT services, but also new innovations such as self-driving cars, cloud robotics, 3D holographic telepresence and remote surgery with haptic feedback.
In fact, many mobile operators are betting on 5G to diversify their revenue streams, as conventional voice and data service ARPUs decline globally.
At present, the 3GPP and other SDOs (Standards Development Organizations) are engaged in defining the first phase of 5G specifications. However, pre-standards 5G network rollouts are already underway, most notably in the United States and South Korea, as mobile operators rush to be the first to offer 5G services.
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 5G network infrastructure market to aggressively grow a CAGR of nearly 70%, eventually accounting for $28 billion in annual spending by the end of 2025.
These infrastructure investments will be complemented by annual shipments of up to 520 million 5G-capable devices.