If you’re looking to cash in on increased contractor opportunities that will become available as America moves towards a still undefined 5G network, seen as the mobile interface on which the network of the 2020’s and 2030’s will be based, you might have to reevaluate your business plan, according to a new market data forecast released by ABI Research.
Research director Philip Solis said it will take more than five years for 5G to reach 100 million subscribers in the world, two years longer than the 4G rollout.
Equipment manufacturers have previously stated that the commercial operation of 5G telecom services would start globally by 2020, and it is estimated that it will provide 1,000 times more capacity than current mobile broadband networks.
Although there is still a large extent of debate on what 5G is exactly about, last month, Megafon and Huawei said it will be developing a 5G network in Russia and a pilot program would be available by the end of 2017. Huawei and SingTel also announced that they were collaborating to launch a 5G program.
“4G subscriber growth was much faster than with previous generations, fuelled by the capabilities of increasingly powerful smartphones and the availability of 4G devices. 5G subscriber growth will likely be a bit more muted at first due to the increased complexity of 5G cells and networks, but will pick up in 2023,” said Solis
The report stated: “There are a number of commonalities between countries that are early builders of 5G networks. They have a large population, of which a large percentage is living in urban areas. They also have many companies pushing the envelope with IoT strategies. These countries will drive 5G subscriber volumes. These are the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom in order of 5G subscribers in 2025.”
A 5G network will be a network of small cells and will be practical in urban and industrialized environments for the population density and the reflections in urban canyons; however, Solis said, you can expect a scaled down version of 5G to use existing spectrum for macrocells as well in the longer term.
5G will encompass spatial division as the foundation of the air interface, leveraging techniques like massive MIMO—achievable in devices because of the high frequency of spectrum that will be used—and 3D beamforming to form narrow beams that divide the space around a 5G base station. Client devices will have links to multiple cells simultaneously for robust connectivity. Spectrum will be used flexibly and shift as needed between access and fronthaul and backhaul. The waveform and modulation scheme are the least clear aspects of 5G currently, said Solis.
Although capabilities beyond those defined in the current 4G network are under consideration, 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body.
In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently said, “The possibilities of 5G are very intriguing. The technology is certainly intriguing, but even more intriguing is what it means for the future of communications. It promises new user experiences, new deployment models, potentially even new industries. 5G will not be just better, faster, and cheaper; it likely will be something fundamentally different from what is possible today.”
Data will be one of the key drivers for 5G and its introduction may for the first time see no dedicated voice service. In 5G, voice is expected to be handled as an application, using the data connectivity provided by the communication system.