Most CSPs in developed countries will widely deploy 5G networks by mid-2020s

According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 5G Telecom Market Forecast 2018-2023, an increasing number of CSPs globally, predominantly in developed countries, are accelerating and broadening the scope of their 5G build-outs, which prompted TBR to increase its 5G infrastructure market size forecast compared to 5G Telecom Market Forecast 2017-2022. There are a few reasons for this pull forward, including the need for CSPs to stay competitive for customers of traditional mobile broadband and high-speed internet services, reduce the cost-per-gigabyte of carrying traffic (network opex efficiencies), and build a foundation in preparation for new use cases of the network. The availability of 5G devices, including a variety of smartphones, in 2019 is another key driver prompting earlier infrastructure investment.

The software upgradeability of some newer LTE base stations will enable some CSPs to more quickly and seamlessly migrate to 5G. However, nearly all CSPs will need to deploy net-new 5G base stations and 5G mobile core over time as CSPs transition from a Non-Standalone (NSA) to Standalone 5G architecture. This seamless software upgradability of new RAN platforms to 5G will facilitate deployment at incremental cost, keeping overall 5G capex spend scaling quickly but at a relatively lower level compared to prior RAN generation upgrades.

Mobile broadband (MBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA) will be the two predominant use cases for 5G technology by CSPs through the forecast period, with other use cases materializing in the middle to later years of the forecast period, mostly as it pertains to machine-type communications such as massive IoT or mission-critical IoT.

Graph showing CSP 5G capex spend from 2018 to 2023

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