GSMA tempers expectations for 5G

GSMA's annual report into the mobile economy forecasts 5G will account for about half of all mobile connections in the United States by 2025. (GSMA)

GSMA’s annual report into the mobile economy predicts at least 18 countries will have live commercial 5G networks by the end of this year, and mobile operators are expected to invest about $480 billion on mobile capital expenditures through 2020. Roughly half of that total global investment will come from countries expected to launch 5G during the next 10 months, according to The Mobile Economy 2019 report.

Despite all the investment and hype surrounding 5G, uptake is still going to take many years to reach fruition. The trade industry body predicts 5G will comprise 15% of global mobile connections by 2025. However, 5G in the United States will account for roughly half of all connections. Europe and China will see about 30% of all connections via 5G by 2025, according to GSMA.

Overall, operators are expected to invest roughly $160 billion per year on expanding and upgrading their networks, the report concludes. During the next 15 years, GSMA predicts 5G will contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy.


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While advances in network technology will boost economic output, the mobile ecosystem that relies on current technologies is generating considerably more value. In 2018, mobile technologies and services generated $3.9 trillion, or 4.6% of gross domestic product, and GSMA forecasts that contribution will rise to $4.8 trillion or 4.8% of GDP by 2023.

IoT is also forecast to make tremendous headway, jumping from 9.1 billion connections in 2018 to 25.2 billion in 2025, according to GSMA. Unique mobile subscribers are also forecast to increase from 5.1 billion in 2018 to 5.8 billion in 2025. Moreover, mobile internet users will rise from 3.6 billion in 2018 to 5 billion in 2025.

Finally, GSMA said the mobile ecosystem directly supported 14 million jobs in 2018 and a further 17 million jobs indirectly.


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