Introducing the next phase of 5G

Last updated: 21 November 2023

It’s been over four years since 5G was introduced and the technology has now been rolled out across all the world’s major economies. So, we’re starting to think about what’s coming next….

Expansion into emerging markets

With 5G already embedded across North America, Europe and leading economies in Asia, it is a maturing technology. The pace of 5G adoption globally is increasing, and its deployments across India and Nigeria are indicative of its growing role in global communications.

The next phase of 5G will see its continued expansion into emerging markets with planned networks expected in Turkey and southern Africa over the next few years. In fact, according to GSMA Intelligence data, over half of mobile connections are expected to be via 5G by 2030.

With mmWave (MMW) providing a considerably higher capacity, there is an ongoing debate over whether 5G represents a long-term alternative to traditional fibre broadband. However, in markets where the physical infrastructure for fibre does not exist, it is easy to see that 5G is ideally suited.

Adapting to evolving digital behaviours

Shifting patterns in business and consumer behaviour will continue to shape how 5G is deployed. Indeed, digital transformation in industry and beyond will see the volume of data traffic continue to boom, resulting in heightened demand for 5G as existing networks struggle to cope.

This digital transformation is also leading to the development of more 5G capable technology. The growing number of use cases will continue to drive demand for 5G services as the limited capacity of previous generations of mobile connectivity fall short.

The development of 5G-Advanced

At the heart of the next phase of 5G is the development and introduction of 5G-Advanced. An important next step on the path to 6G, 5G-Advanced will deliver improved support for extended reality (XR) technology, enabling more seamless VR, AR and cloud gaming programmes. It will also make use of the latest developments in AI to improve network energy efficiency, load balancing and mobility management.

5G-Advanced will also support multicast services – a key priority for network operators. This allows for the transmission of the same data across a network of devices which is essential in mission critical group communications such as for the emergency services.

5G-Advanced Internet of Things (IoT) solutions such as connected vehicles, smart metres and remote monitoring tools will account for a significant share of 5G connections – and these will be increasingly available at a much lower cost.  This will further fuel the adoption of 5G-Advanced as it becomes more accessible to businesses with varying degrees of capital.

Beyond this, Satellite 5G (Non-Terrestrial Networks) will benefit us all by bridging the digital divide and providing ubiquitous connectivity.

A promising outlook

The rollout of 5G has already resulted in a dramatic shift in how we use mobile technology – and it is meeting several other priorities for network operations including positioning accuracy and enhanced integration with drone and satellite technology.

Ultimately, by introducing 5G innovation, we will achieve significant benefits – notably the digital transformation of enterprises which will lead to higher productivity and economic growth. Additional advantages include better digital access, reduced travel time, more engaging consumer services and new opportunities to create a more sustainable world.  SIMs and eSIMs  are crucial here to enable the full 5G promise to both enterprises and users.

There are huge societal benefits of introducing 5G and the industry needs to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Find out more about the evolution of 5G in the latest report by GSMA Intelligence:

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