Worldwide 5G network infrastructure spend to double in 2020

Worldwide 5G network infrastructure spending ‘to almost double’ to $8bn in 2020

31 July 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Worldwide 5G network infrastructure market revenue will almost double in 2020 to reach US$8.1 billion, says a new report. And China will lead the investment rush.

The latest forecast by Gartner says that, in spite of this, the total wireless infrastructure revenue will decline by 4.4% to $38.1 billion in 2020.

“Investment in wireless infrastructure continues to gain momentum, as a growing number of [telcos] are prioritising 5G projects by reusing current assets including radio spectrum bandwidths, base stations, core network and transport network, and transitioning LTE/4G spend to maintenance mode,” said Kosei Takiishi, senior research director at Gartner.

Last year 5G took a 10.4% share of investment in network infrastructure. This figure will reach 21.3% in 2020.

Takiishi added: “Early 5G adopters are driving greater competition among [service providers]. In addition, governments and regulators are fostering mobile network development and betting that it will be a catalyst and multiplier for widespread economic growth across many industries.”

Rising competition among mobile operators is causing the pace of 5G adoption to accelerate, says the Gartner report.

New open radio access network (O-RAN) and virtualised RAN (vRAN) ecosystems “could disrupt current vendor-lock-in and promote 5G adoption by providing cost-efficient and agile 5G products in the future”, says the report.

Gartner predicts that telcos in Greater China – China, Taiwan and Hong Kong – as well as what it calls mature Asia/Pacific, North America and Japan will reach 5G coverage across 95% of national populations by 2023.

“Despite investment growth rates in 5G being slightly lower in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, excluding Greater China and Japan, [telcos] in all regions are quickly pivoting new and discretionary spend to build out the 5G network and 5G as a platform,” said Takiishi.

Gartner expects that 5G investment will rebound modestly in 2021 as telcos seek to capitalise on changed behaviour sparked by populations’ elevated reliance on communication networks. In 2022, 5G investment will exceed investment in 4G, said the company.