Mobile operators to spend $21B on 5G NR by end of 2025: SNS

Mobile operators will spend more than $21 billion on standardized 5G New Radio (NR) infrastructure by the end of 2025, according to SNS Research.

Of course, pre-standards 5G work is already well underway and SNS Research previously released an estimate saying that by the end of 2017, pre-standards 5G network investments are expected to account for over $250 million.

Based on early contract wins, it is evident that existing vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and Huawei will benefit the most from operators’ collective 5G spend, according to James Bennett, director at SNS Research.

A number of startups also have appeared since the inception of 5G research efforts. However, there is always the potential of acquisition (and overshadowing) by larger vendors, particularly in the radio access segment, Bennett told FierceWirelessTech.

“We expect to see several acquisitions in built-up towards 5G networks,” he said. “In addition, nontraditional vendors may potentially play a major role in the mobile core segment (this is a trend already prevalent in LTE networks, with new entrants such as Affirmed Networks entering the market).”

Although 2020 has conventionally been regarded as the headline date for 5G commercialization, the very first standardized deployments of the technology are expected to be commercialized as early as 2019 with the 3GPP's initial 5G specifications set to be implementation-ready by March 2018, according to SNS Research.

“Between 2019 and 2025, we expect the standardized 5G NR infrastructure market to aggressively grow at a CAGR of approximately 70%, eventually accounting for over $21 billion in annual spending by the end of 2025,” the research firm said in a press release. “The market will be complemented by additional investments of over $7 billion on NextGen (Next Generation) core and transport (fronthaul/backhaul) networking infrastructure.”

The research firm notes that 5G is expected to provide a single network environment to deliver not only existing mobile broadband and internet of things services, but also new innovations such as self-driving cars, cloud robotics, 3D holographic telepresence and remote surgery with haptic feedback.

Bennett said SNS Research believes the very first self-driving "prototype" cars using 5G are likely to appear on the roads by 2020. “By 2025, we expect actual commercialization of self-driving cars based on the upcoming V2X standards being defined as part of 5G specifications,” he said.

The 3GPP agreed in March to accelerate some elements in the 5G NR timeline, setting a December 2017 deadline to finish the nonstandalone (NSA) implementation. The NSA 5G NR will use the existing LTE radio and evolved packet core as an anchor for mobility management and coverage while adding a new 5G radio access carrier to enable certain 5G use cases starting in 2019.