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Investing in 5G

The scale, promise and challenges of tomorrow’s networks

Operators will invest up to $1 trillion in 5G networks between 2018 and 2025, with much of it back-loaded. This capex accounts for 17% of operator mobile revenue. In this report, GSMA Intelligence looks out to 2025 and shows how 5G network investment is set to occur in three main waves, reflecting the pace and depth of deployments across different regions. It considers the disruptive factors that will accelerate or slow the pace of 5G deployments, including incremental revenue from new services, regulation, the cost of spectrum and new network models.

5G launches are set against a backdrop of low, single-digit mobile revenue growth, if that, in most markets around the world. However, revenue pressure does not appear to be affecting 5G timelines and ambitions, according to this latest research. Both the US and China are 5G pioneers and will invest a total of $165 billion in 5G networks between 2019 and 2021.

The report highlights open questions and new network considerations for the 5G era. It shows how 5G brings further complexity and, more fundamentally, new ways of operating a network with or without licensed spectrum. It also draws attention to how manufacturing is a particularly fertile area for private deployments; how 5G-based fixed wireless remains a niche play for now; and how using AI-based network automation is set to make 5G networks more efficient and agile.

The analysis also takes a regional perspective of the 5G investment outlook. With a diverse scene in terms of timelines and challenges, the report examines scenarios in the US, Europe, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the GCC Arab States.

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