ABI Research says an increased emphasis on software-centric networks like 5G will be the next growth phase for telecoms. The industry will only reap the benefits of advanced use cases such as ultra-reliable low-latency communications (uRLLC) and massive machine-type communications (mMTC) when they migrate wholesale to full 5G networks.
Don Alusha, senior analyst at ABI Research, cautions that 5G is not just about radio and core network evolution. He predicts it will require investment in other parts of the ecosystem, like transport networks and cloud-based platforms. “The supply side of telecoms must accompany its 5G offering with a clear understanding of how 5G-specific use cases fit into the wider connectivity-centric telecoms ecosystem to unlock new commercial opportunities for the industry at large,” he adds.
In the short-term vendors are providing a converged solution where 4G functions can combine with 5G capability in the same product, but standalone 5G commercial offerings are bound to hit the market soon.
ABI Research forecasts with the market to reach US$8.4 billion in 2024, from US$29 million, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 313%.
MSPs are pursuing different strategies to embrace 5G mainly focused on radio enhancements, but eventually, they must face the prospect of upgrading to full 5G functionality. The sentiment in the operator community varies.
Some assert that they intend to wait for the ecosystem to reach a high degree of maturity, while some others are already pursuing trials aimed at a full-fledged 5G network. The transition to a 5G network is not a quick endeavour, but that should not preclude MSPs, and the industry at large, from taking a step now and accelerating investment down the line for a wholesale migration.
Alusha says MSPs’ adoption of 5G will vary in line with where they currently are from a technology perspective and business potential, and priorities from a commercial perspective. “While each MSP will chart its own course, it is essential that they have a clear plan in place that captures some benefits now, but - and this is important - does not drift away from the goal of ultimately creating a large-scale commercial upswing,” Alusha further elaborates.