In keeping with other studies showing that the latest wave of mobile comms networks seem to be defying the economic headwinds around the globe, a study from Juniper Research has forecast that communications operators are likely to generate $625bn from 5G services globally by 2027, a substantial rise from the $310bn predicted for the end of 2023.
The report, Operator revenue strategies: Business models, emerging technologies & market forecasts 2023-2027, predicted this growth of over 100% over the next four years would be driven by the migration of mobile subscriptions to 5G networks and the increasing inclusion of eSIMs in devices such as laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots.
It also predicted that 5G networks would account for 80% of global billed service revenue from communications operators by 2027, a situation the analysts noted would allow operators to secure a return on investment into their 5G networks.
However, Juniper Research noted that the increasing implementation of embedded subscriber identity modules (eSIMs) into new devices would drive global cellular data traffic to grow by over 180% between 2023 and 2027, as data traffic is offloaded from fixed and Wi-Fi networks to 5G. Previous Juniper studies have observed that after spending more than a decade offering a potential breakthrough in mobile communications, embedded eSIM technology has enjoyed noticeable growth in the past 12 months, making its way from smartphones to smart devices.
The report also calculated that, driven by Apple innovation disrupting the smartphone sector, the value of the global eSIM market was expected increase from $4.7bn in 2023 to $16.3bn by 2027.
“eSIM-capable devices will drive significant growth in cellular data, as consumers leverage cellular networks for use cases that have historically used fixed networks,” commented report author Frederick Savage. “Operators must ensure that networks, including 5G and upcoming 6G networks, are future-proofed by implementing new technologies across the entirety of networks.”
Looking at the development of the 6G market in general, the analyst firm said progress would necessitate the arrival of innovative technologies. To prepare for the increasing demand for cellular data, the report predicted 6G standards must adopt innovative technologies that are not currently used in 5G implementations. It identified non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) and sub-1THz frequency bands as key technologies that must be at the centre of initial trials and tests of 6G networks, to provide increased data capabilities over existing 5G networks.
However, the research cautioned that the increased cost generated by the use of satellites for NTNs and the acquisition costs of high-frequency spectrum would create longer timelines for securing return on 6G investment for operators. As a result, it urged the telecommunications industry to form partnerships with specialists in non-terrestrial connectivity, thus benefitting from lower investment costs into 6G networks.