Study: 3.2bn 5G connections by 2026

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A study from Juniper Research has found that the total number of 5G connections will reach 3.2 billion by 2026; rising from 310 million in 2021.

To maximise the monetisation of this significant growth in connections, it predicts that operators will accelerate investment into standalone 5G networks best to position their services to manage future capacity. Standalone 5G networks leverage next-generation technologies, such as network orchestration tools, to enable operators to monetise data-intensive use cases, such as remote healthcare and mobile gaming.

The study, 5G Monetisation: Business Models, Strategic Recommendations & Market Forecasts 2021-2026, identified automating network orchestration tools as a key priority for operators in monetising their 5G services. These tools allow operators to adapt network conditions based on AI analysis of traffic; providing more bandwidth to connections that need it, and maintaining service performance.

By 2026, the report predicts that the average revenue per 5G smartphone connection will fall to $17 (€14.48) globally, from $29 in 2021; significantly impacting operator revenue. To alleviate this decline, it recommends that operators leverage orchestration tools to retain a network’s highest throughput and lowest latency for connections that require it. By utilising this approach, operators can justify charging a premium to these prioritised connections over other 5G connections, and slow this declining average revenue.

The report found that over 60 per cent of global 5G connections will be located in the Asia Pacific region by 2026. Network orchestration technologies, alongside mmWave frequencies that enable data-intensive 5G services, will be a key driver in creating an ecosystem in this region that allows mobile subscribers to leverage 5G networks for emerging mobile services, whilst maintaining network performance.

“Operators in China, Japan and South Korea have all implemented lower subscription costs, which have accelerated 5G adoption, thus enabling these subscribers to explore novel services that require 5G connectivity,” advises report co-author Dave Bowie.


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