Global spending in 5G network infrastructure for 2020 is expected to grow to almost twice that of 2019, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.

The company projects that 5G infrastructure spending will climb to $8.1bn worldwide in 2020, a 96% growth on the previous year.

The company also expects 5G network infrastructure to account for 21.3% of total wireless infrastructure revenue, with LTE and 4G, as well as 3G and 2G all seeing significant declines.

This follows a 2019 growth of 5G network infrastructure spending of 576.6%, as many countries began to install the first commercial 5G networks. However, in 2019 5G only accounted for 10.4% of wireless infrastructure revenue.

5G infrastructure spending marred by coronavirus, but enthusiasm remains.

The sharp drop in growth rates has been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, but experts argue that the strong numbers show that 5G is still very much the focus and future for the telecoms industry.

“Despite investment growth rates in 5G being slightly lower in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis (excluding Greater China and Japan), communications service providers (CSPs) in all regions are quickly pivoting new and discretionary spend to build out the 5G network and 5G as a platform,” said Kosei Takiishi, senior research director at Gartner.

“Investment in wireless infrastructure continues to gain momentum, as a growing number of CSPs are prioritising 5G projects by reusing current assets including radio spectrum bandwidths, base stations, core network and transport network, and transitioning LTE/4G spend to maintenance mode.”

At present, China remains the leader in 5G development, accounting for 49.4% of global investment in 2020. However, Takiishi said that “other early adopting and technologically adept nations are not far behind”.

“Early 5G adopters are driving greater competition among CSPs,” he said.

“In addition, governments and regulators are fostering mobile network development and betting that it will be a catalyst and multiplier for widespread economic growth across many industries.”


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