IT prophesier Gartner has performed its ritual reading of market omens to foretell next year's global 5G network infrastructure revenue. The hype wizards reckon that in 2020 the market will hit $4.2bn, an 89 per cent increase from 2019 revenue of $2.2bn.
That leap is largely due to the fact that many countries have only just started switching networks on. In the UK, Three became the third mobile operator to go live with the service earlier this week.
Mobile operators in the UK have been calling on the government to hurry up and conclude its review of Huawei's footprint in the UK's 5G infrastructure – having recently fudged the issue in its long-awaited supply chain review.
All operators apart from O2 currently use the controversial Chinese kit supplier in their networks.
Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner, said: "For 5G deployments in 2019, CSPs [Communication Service Providers] are using non-standalone technology. This enables them to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G core network infrastructure.
"In 2020, CSPs will roll out standalone 5G technology, which will require 5G NR equipment and a 5G core network. This will lower costs for CSPs and improve performance for users."
National 5G coverage will not, however, occur as quickly as with past generations of wireless infrastructure, he added.
"To maintain average performance standards as 5G is built out, CSPs will need to undertake targeted strategic improvements to their 4G legacy layer, by upgrading 4G infrastructure around 5G areas of coverage.
"A less robust 4G legacy layer adjoining 5G cells could lead to real or perceived performance issues as users move from 5G to 4G/LTE Advanced Pro. This issue will be most pronounced from 2019 through 2021, a period when 5G coverage will be focused on hot spots and areas of high population density."
According to Gartner, CSPs will increasingly focus on the enterprise customer.
5G networks are expected to expand the mobile ecosystem to cover new industries, such as the smart factory, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, agriculture and retail sectors.
"It's still early days for the 5G private-network opportunity, but vendors, regulators and standards bodies have preparations in place," Fabre added. ®