In terms of number of mobile connections, 4G will become the lead mobile network technology in 2019 (at more than 3 billion) and will continue to dominate over the period to 2025. Developing markets are driving overall 4G connections growth. Of the 2.5 billion new 4G connections over the next eight years, 1.1 billion will come from three major markets in Asia (India, China and Indonesia) and a further 1 billion will come from Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, the mobile industry continues to make progress with 5G, with early commercial launches expected over the next three years in North America and in major markets across Asia and Europe. The US will see its first commercial launch in late 2018. The non-standalone 5G new radio (NSA 5G NR) specifications were officially approved in December 2017 as part of a wider plan that targets complete standardisation of the 5G system for both nonstandalone and standalone models by mid-2018. A large number of 5G trials are also currently being conducted worldwide using various spectrum bands, especially 3.5 GHz and 26/28 GHz. More than 30 markets are planning to assign spectrum in these two spectrum bands over the next couple of years. As well as most of Europe, the list of countries includes Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea and the US.
While 4G has been driving and enabling the transition from the connected consumer to the digital consumer during 2010–2020, 5G will play a key role in the transition to the augmented consumer in the longer term. Today’s digital consumers are the key addressable market for 5G services. Many of these consumers will increasingly adopt a range of technologies that are expected to benefit from the faster speeds and lower latencies promised by 5G. These include advanced video capabilities (i.e. 4K, 8K, 3D video, 360-degree video for sports broadcasting), AR and VR applications for gaming and immersive TV, autonomous cars, and digital services and content for connected stadia and smart cities.
China, the US and Japan will be the leading countries in terms of connections by 2025, while Europe as a whole will continue to make progress with 5G deployment. In total, these four economies will account for more than 70% of the global 5G market in 2025 – nearly 900 million connections in a global market that will reach 1.2 billion.