Report: Asia, North America to Lead 5G Adoption through 2021

5G may eventually underpin huge amounts of communication in support of the Internet of Things (IoT), but tech consultancy Ovum said it will initially be used to enhance mobile broadband services, reaching 24 million subscriptions worldwide in 2021. The company’s inaugural 5G Subscription Forecast predicts that significant immediate adoption of 5G in North America and Asia will drive global subscription numbers, with each accounting for 40 percent of the market in 2021.

5G will launch officially in 2020, and commercial services using networks and devices fully compliant with 5G are still a few years away from launching, though Ovum notes a number of operators have announced plans to launch services marketed as 5G earlier.

READ MORE: IoT to Drive Next Wave of Connected Devices: Report

“The main use case for 5G through 2021 will be enhanced mobile broadband services, although fixed broadband services will also be supported, especially in the US,” said Mike Roberts, Ovum Practice Leader covering carrier strategy and technology. “Over time 5G will support a host of use cases including Internet of Things and mission-critical communications, but Ovum does not believe those use cases will be supported by standardized 5G services through 2021.”

The forecast suggests that 5G will be available in 20 national markets by the end of 2021, across each of the four major regions the company divides the world into. While North America and Asia will each have nearly 10 million 5G subscribers at that point, Europe and the Middle East and Africa will account for 10 percent each with close to 2.5 million. Major operators in the US, South Korea, China, and Japan have made known plans to move aggressively with 5G launches, which significantly influences the forecast.

China’s Huawei, for instance, began announcing major 5G plans in April 2015.

Ovum defines a 5G subscription as applying to both the connection and the device, and 5G as a system based on 3GPP 5G standards. These will only begin to come available with 3GPP Release 15, slated to be finalized in 2018.

The company considers all of its subscription figures conservative, though it notes that uncertainty goes along with predicting technology several years away.

“5G is at an early stage and there is a high degree of uncertainty around 5G deployment and adoption, including significant upside and downside risks,” Roberts added.

Ericsson called for “global spectrum harmonization to secure early 5G deployments” in a recent report.

Source: TheWHIR