Commercial 5G services are expected to launch in 2020, reaching 24 million global subscribers within the first 12 months, according to research house Ovum’s inaugural 5G Subscription Forecasts.
North America and Asia will lead the way, it says, each accounting for more than 40 per cent of global 5G subscriptions at the end of 2021, followed by Europe with more than 10 per cent of subscriptions, with the Middle East and Africa accounting for the remainder.
Ovum predicts that 5G services will be available in more than 20 markets worldwide by the end of 2021, with services in all four major world regions. However, the vast majority of 5G subscriptions will be concentrated in the US, Japan, China, and South Korea, where major operators have revealed aggressive timelines for launching 5G services.
“The main use case for 5G through 2021 will be enhanced mobile broadband services, although fixed broadband services will also be supported, especially in the US. Over time 5G will support a host of use cases including Internet of Things and mission-critical communications, but Ovum does not believe those use cases will be supported by standardised 5G services through 2021,” said Mike Roberts, Ovum Practice Leader covering carrier strategy and technology.
Ovum defines a 5G subscription as an active connection to a 5G network via a 5G device. 5G is further defined as a system based on and complying with 3GPP 5G standards.
Ovum’s forecast comes in the same week that Nokia laid claim to developing the world’s first 5G-ready network. According to Nokia the claim is genuine, and is ready to showcase its network in London later this week. Nokia’s technology 5G network uses radio access technology linked with a cloud-based packet core, which runs over Nokia’s AirFrame data centre platform. Despite a current lack of standards, Nokia currently serves as chair of the 5G-PPP, the EU’s 5G standards body, and so their claims are being taken relatively seriously.
Many of the large operators have already announced plans to launch 5G services before 2020, but these will not typically be based on networks and devices complying with 5G standards, and so are excluded from Ovum’s forecasts.
“5G is at an early stage and there is a high degree of uncertainty around 5G deployment and adoption, including significant upside and downside risks,” Roberts added.