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Operators urged to deploy 5G more aggressively in cities to tap $17 trillion opportunity


5G will generate trillions in new value and it starts with city deployments, says new research from ABI Research.

The 5G urban deployment: Debunking the capex myth and unlocking new growth study, commissioned by InterDigital, suggests that between now and 2028, 5G will create trillions of dollars’ worth of growth in three key areas:

•    $2.4 trillion (€2.12 trillion) in direct contributions: mostly driven by end-user subscriptions for connectivity services. This compares with $1.1 trillion (€0.97 trillion) with 4G.

•    $866 billion (€765 billion) in indirect contributions: these include increases in the supply chain from devices, infrastructure, applications, advertising and other products or services. This compares with $500 billion (€442 billion) in 2018 on 4G.

•    $3.2 trillion (€2.8 trillion) in productivity gains: these refer to better workforce efficiency due to the availability of connectivity throughout cities.

By 2035, when enterprise vertical services are expected to have matured, ABI Research predicts that 5G will have generated $17 trillion (€15 trillion) in total economic growth.

Initially, these services and advantages will be seen in cities and will then expand to non-urban areas, ABI Research says.

Operators urged to be bold

According to the findings, mobile operators should take steps to deploy 5G mobile broadband connectivity more aggressively in cities over the coming years.

“ 5G in urban areas can create a new wave of enterprise vertical use cases that will redefine consumer lifestyles and enterprise operations in cities. The dense population of urban areas will allow mobile operators to better monetise new 5G services without massive investment or a long ROI cycle,” the analysis notes.

According to the report, the first 5G-related use cases will be fuelled by enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), but advanced and use-case enabling 5G features, such as Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) and Massive Machine Type Communications (MMTC) will start to appear as early as 2020.

Several technologies are contributing to this development, including private cellular, millimetre wave (mmWave), small cells, fixed wireless access, and telco cloud/edge. 

Dimitris Mavrakis from ABI Research said, “We have reached a critical point today where our global economy is heavily reliant on our ability to deliver new technological services. 5G has the potential to completely change our everyday lives, but only if mobile service providers can roll out 5G in a way that makes economical and logical sense – that is, to start with mobile broadband connectivity deployments in urban areas to create the right use cases that will justify investments in capex and opex.”

Relieving the pressure

“We expect 5G deployment to begin to place huge pressures on mobile operators over the next couple of years as they look to compete to capitalise on its revenue potential,” said Henry Tirri, CTO, at InterDigital.

He added, “Many are trying to understand how they will monetise this next generation of wireless technology, and most importantly, how they’ll deliver ROI from it. But while there may still be several questions and doubts surrounding 5G monetisation, these findings clearly demonstrate the growth opportunities that 5G is set to bring about.

"While capex and opex investments will be high, it is evident that 5G technology will radically change our ability to deliver new and innovative consumer and enterprise services, and help dictate the trajectory of our future global economy.”

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•    Smart IoT Connect – September 10, 2019, London, is a joint event between Mobile Europe & European Communications and sister publication SmartCitiesWorld will explore telcos’ role in smarter cities, how to enable better collaboration between cities and the telecoms industry and the challenges that remain. Find out more