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September 08, 2015

Juniper Research: 240 Million 5G Connections by 2025

If the pace of mobile Internet access was starting to feel a bit sluggish, take heart: a new report from Juniper Research suggests that by 2025 there will be around 240 million active 5G connections on the go worldwide. But that exciting fact is somewhat tempered by further reports from the organization, noting that that 240 million will represent only 3 percent of total global mobile connections at that time.

There's no doubt that there's a market already champing at the proverbial bit for 5G access to make its way to the global stage. The Juniper Research study—titled “5G Market Strategies: 4G LTE Evolution, Spectrum Analysis & Opportunities 2015 – 2025”—notes that one major driver of 5G connections will be the ever-increasing need for bandwidth caused by the Internet of Everything, as it's sometimes called. With so many new devices coming online and requiring bandwidth, there will be plenty of new strain on the network.

But such applications wouldn't be the only drivers of 5G connectivity, the report noted; the obvious benefits of higher data rates and reduced latency would be a huge plus, as would improvements in battery life for devices using 5G and even the range of devices that would support 5G connectivity. This is a development only likely to improve as a set of new standardization activities are set to take place over the next five years, with commercial services likely to fire up in 2020.

There's still quite a bit about 5G that's unknown, however, including the frequency bands being used, as well as issues of timing and spectrum costs, which will together determine just how fast 5G rollouts take place. Juniper Research's studies expect the early adopters on 5G to be Japan and South Korea, though the United States will likely not be far behind in terms of early-stage growth rates. 

The numbers here may sound the most unusual; after all, we're talking about five years after the start of commercial rollouts, but even after that, 5G will represent a comparatively meager 3 percent of all connections. That's not so outlandish if considered fully; think about 4G LTE for a minute. Reports note the standard was finalized in December 2008, but even today there are places that can't get an LTE signal just by looking at AT&T's maps, including large portions of Nebraska. Indeed, the idea that Japan and South Korea will be the leaders here is perfectly rational thanks to the two countries' high population density and low overall surface area. That makes these two prime locations for wireless connectivity, indeed connectivity of all stripes. But the idea that even five years after launch it still may be tough to find a 5G connection has to be a tough one to swallow.

Still, these are outward projections, and  most of us know it will take time for the services to roll out and actually reach our mobile devices. With demand staggeringly high, however, it's likely to be more a matter of companies' ability to fulfill that demand that slows things down than anything else; people are more than ready for faster, better connectivity.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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