The deployment of new communications technology could disrupt parts of the traditional broadband marketplace. According to the latest study by International Data Corporation (IDC), that’s a key finding from their assessment of the worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure market.
It follows the release of IDC’s initial forecasts for Telecom Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and Network Functions Virtualisation Infrastructure (NFVI).
With the first instances of 5G services rolling out in the fourth quarter of 2018, 2019 is set to be a seminal year in the mobile telecommunications industry. Moreover, 5G smartphones will begin to reach the market and end-users will be able to experience 5G technology benefits firsthand.
From an infrastructure standpoint, the mobile telecom industry continues to trial innovative solutions that leverage new spectrum, network virtualisation, and machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to create new value from existing network services.
While these and other enhancements will play a critical role, 5G NR represents a key milestone in the next mobile generation, enabling faster speeds and enhanced capacity at a lower cost per bit.
However, even as select cities begin to experience 5G NR today, the full breadth of 5G’s potential will take several years to arrive, which will require additional standards work and trials, particularly related to a 5G NG core.
In addition to 5G NR and 5G NG core, procurement patterns indicate communications service providers will need to invest in adjacent domains – including backhaul and NFVI – to support the continued push to cloud-native, software-led architectures.
Combined, IDC expects the total 5G and 5G-related network infrastructure market (5G RAN, 5G NG core, NFVI, routing and optical backhaul) to grow from approximately $528 million in 2018 to $26 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 118 percent.
According to the IDC analyst’s latest view, 5G RAN will be the largest market sub-segment through the forecast period, which is in-line with prior mobile generations.
“Early 5G adopters are laying the groundwork for long-term success by investing in 5G RAN, NFVI, optical underlays, and next-generation routers and switches. Many are also in the process of experimenting with the 5G NG core,” said Patrick Filkins, senior research analyst at IDC.
The long-term benefit of making these investments now will be when the standards-compliant SA 5G core is combined with a fully virtualised, cloud-ready RAN in the early 2020s.
This development will enable many communications network service providers to expand their value proposition and offer customised services across a diverse set of enterprise verticals through the use of network slicing.
Vodafone pioneered the switch to full 5G, beating out other telcos in the United Kingdom back in 2018.
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