International Data Corporation (IDC) projects the number of 5G connections to grow from 10 million in 2019 to 1.01 billion in 2023.
This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 217.2%. By 2023, IDC expects 5G will represent 8.9% of all mobile device connections.
According to IDC’s first worldwide 5G forecast, several factors will help to drive the adoption of 5G over the coming years, including:
• Data creation and consumption – the amount of data created and consumed by consumers and businesses will continue to grow over the coming years. Shifting data-intensive users and use cases to 5G will allow network operators to more efficiently manage network resources, improving performance and reliability as a result.
• More things connected – as the IoT continues to proliferate, the need to support millions of connected endpoints at the same time will become increasingly critical. With the ability to enable an exponentially denser number of simultaneous connections, 5G will be key for mobile network operators in providing reliable network performance.
• Speed and real-time access – 5G’s speed and latency will open the door for new use cases. Many of these use cases will come from businesses looking to leverage 5G's technological advantages in their edge computing, artificial intelligence and cloud services initiatives.
"While there is a lot to be excited about with 5G, and there are impressive early success stories to fuel that enthusiasm, the road to realising the full potential of 5G beyond enhanced mobile broadband is a longer-term endeavour, with a great deal of work yet to be done on standards, regulations and spectrum allocations," said Jason Leigh, Research Manager for Mobility at IDC.
"Despite the fact that many of the more futuristic use cases involving 5G remain three to five years from commercial scale, mobile subscribers will be drawn to 5G for video streaming, mobile gaming and AR/VR applications in the near term."
In addition to building out the 5G network infrastructure, IDC outlines key strategic approaches to help mobile network operators make the most of their investment. These include focusing on unique applications, positioning themselves as ‘trusted advisors’ on connectivity and 5G, and fostering deep partnerships with software, hardware and services vendors, as well as close relationships with industry partners.