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5G moves from hype to reality and will add $2.2tn to global economy by 2034

Trade association for global mobile industry predicts huge growth and huge revenues from rapidly expanding 5G universe

The 2020 edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report has revealed the rapid extent to which 5G has become a mainstay of the communications world in a short space of time and to the huge value it can potentially add to industries.

The report notes that 5G has gained significant traction over the past year and is now live in 24 markets worldwide, supported by an expanding roster of 5G devices and growing awareness among consumers. In all, 46 operators in 24 markets had launched commercially available 5G networks by 30 January 2020, and the GSMA expects that a fifth of mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025.

There is a profound economic consequence of this. Overall, 5G is forecast to contribute $2.2tn to the global economy by 2034, with key industries such as manufacturing, utilities, and professional and financial services benefiting most from the new technology.

The internet of things (IoT) will be an integral part of the 5G era, and the study shows that between 2019 and 2025, the number of global IoT connections will more than double to almost 25 billion, while global IoT revenue will more than triple to $1.1tn.

On a general basis, the study calculated that all mobile technologies and services generated 4.7% of GDP globally in 2019, a contribution that is said to have amounted to $4.1tn of economic value added. This contribution is forecast to grow to $4.9tn, 4.9% of GDP, by 2024 as countries around the globe increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services.

“Over the past 12 months, we have seen the 5G ‘hype’ make way for reality: millions of consumers are already migrating to 5G, while enterprises are beginning to embrace 5G-enabled network slicing, edge computing and low-latency services”
Mats Granryd, GSMA

“The mobile operator worldwide investment forecast will be more than $1tn over the coming years, focused on rolling out advanced networks to serve both consumer and enterprise customers,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. “Over the past 12 months, we have seen the 5G ‘hype’ make way for reality: millions of consumers are already migrating to 5G, while enterprises are beginning to embrace 5G-enabled network slicing, edge computing and low-latency services.”

The telecoms industry was found to be investing heavily in 5G, and the GSMA noted that mobile operators are expected to spend $1.1tn worldwide between 2020 and 2025 in mobile capital expenditure, roughly 80% of which will likely be on 5G networks.

Yet even if 5G has most certainly arrived into the world of comms, the 2020 Mobile Economy report also showed that 4G was the world’s dominant mobile technology last year, supporting more than half (52%) of global connections. Moreover, the GSMA said that despite the emergence of 5G, 4G is still king when it comes to mobile and will continue to grow over the coming years, increasing its reach to account for 56% of connections by 2025.

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