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Global 5G connections to reach 1.4bn by 2025

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5G fixed wireless broadband will need to meet expectations in real-world scenarios.
5G fixed wireless broadband will need to meet expectations in real-world scenarios.

Global 5G connections are forecast to reach 1.4 billion globally by 2025, an increase from the one million connections predicted for 2019.

This is according to a new report from Juniper Research, which says the increase will represent average annual growth of 232% from 2019, which is anticipated to be the first year 5G will launch commercially.

The research forecasts the three countries with the highest number of 5G connections by 2025 will be China, the US and Japan. Together, these three countries will have 55% of all 5G connections by 2025.

Additionally, it found the US alone will account for over 30% of global 5G Internet of things (IOT) connections by 2025, with the highest number of 5G connections for fixed wireless broadband and automotive services.

The report also warned that to be successful, 5G fixed wireless broadband would need to meet expectations in real-world scenarios to compete with fibre broadband.

Major global telecoms operators aim to launch fifth-generation mobile networks in 2019 and 2020 but so far there has been little indication of when the technology will launch commercially on the African continent.

Earlier this month, Vodacom group CTO Andries Delport said the operator wants to be SA's first mobile operator to roll out 5G, but this will probably still be a few years away.

"I'm not making any prediction on when we will launch 5G but I'm pretty sure we will be first," Delport said at a media roundtable in Johannesburg.

Last month, Juniper said 5G operator-billed service revenue will reach $269 billion (R3.6 trillion) by 2025, rising from $851 million (R11.3 billion) in 2019. The group anticipates 5G revenue will have a compound annual growth rate of 161% over the first seven years of 5G services globally.

5G IOT connections

In terms of commercial IOT revenues, Juniper forecasts average revenue per connection (ARPC), including for smart cities and digital health, would be disappointing due to low data requirements and nominal duty-cycles.

The research urged operators to develop new business models to minimise network operating costs, including software-based solutions, to manage the diverse requirements of individual 5G IOT connections.

Furthermore, it advised that maximising connectivity revenues through 5G fixed wireless broadband would prove crucial to offset this disappointment, with ARPC forecast to remain above $50 (R667) until 2025.

"Operators and vendors must test their networks in a real-world environment at scale, ensuring speeds can compete with fibre services," says research author Sam Barker.

"Networks that can deliver the highest speeds and greatest reliability will command the highest ARPCs, hastening operators' return on 5G investment."

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