5G connections are forecast to reach 3.2 billion by 2026, up from 310 million in 2021, according to new data from Juniper Research.
About 60% of the global 5G connections will be located in the Asia Pacific region by 2026, Juniper forecasts.
Next-generation 5G technologies such as millimeter wave (mmWave) and network orchestration will be key drivers for creating an ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region, allowing mobile subscribers to leverage 5G networks for emerging mobile services.
To maximize this growth, operators will need to accelerate investment in standalone 5G networks to manage future capacity. Standalone 5G networks use technologies such as network orchestration tools to enable operators to monetize data-intensive use cases such as remote healthcare and mobile gaming, Juniper said.
Standalone 5G uses new infrastructure put in place specifically to run 5G networks allowing smart devices and other potential use cases to take advantage of the high download speed, high bandwidth and low latency that the technology affords. Non-standalone 5G technology, which has been the bulk of the 5G networks deployed worldwide, uses 4G infrastructure already in place and piggybacks on the 5G signal through this equipment. Because 4G infrastructure has been deployed globally, the non-standalone equipment is more plentiful than standalone 5G equipment currently installed worldwide. However, standalone infrastructure is growing in deployment.
Juniper also forecasts that the average revenue per 5G smartphone connection will fall to $17 in 2026, down from $29 in 2021.
This will no doubt impact operator revenue, but by leveraging orchestration tools to retain a network’s high throughput and low latency, this could alleviate the decline. Using this approach would allow operators to charge a premium to prioritize connections over other 5G connections, slowing declining average revenue.
The full research can be found in Juniper’s 5G Monetization: Business Models, Strategic Recommendations & Market Forecasts 2021-2026 report.