MWC 2024: 5G momentum on a roll with 1.6 billion connections worldwide

New figures from GSMA Intelligence (GSMAi) released today at MWC Barcelona 2024 reveal that 5G connections are expected to represent over half (51 per cent) of mobile connections by 2029.

Authors of the report note that 5G has been the fastest mobile generation rollout to date, surpassing one billion connections by the end of 2022, rising to 1.6 billion connections at the end of 2023 and projected to reach 5.5 billion by 2030.

Findings showed that, as of last month, 261 operators in 101 countries had launched commercial 5G services, and more than 90 operators from 64 markets have committed to rollouts.

Of the 261 commercial 5G services available, 47 are provided on 5G Standalone (SA) networks, with a further 89 planned deployments near-term that will take advantage of network slicing, ultra-reliable low-latency communications support, and the simplified 5G SA network architecture.

Peter Jarich, the head of GSMAi, said, “the early success of 5G was driven by enhanced mobile broadband (EMBB) and EMBB-related network traffic requirements. Yet, while consumer requirements will continue their trajectory, we are now seeing use cases beyond that.

“Opportunities are now appearing in areas including API monetization and 5G RedCap for enterprise IoT – all supported by 5G-Advanced and 5G SA networks. 5G SA brings home 5G’s early promise, particularly where slicing, low-latency and massive IoT capabilities tied to enterprise service needs can be met. 5G-Advanced will only extend that further.”

A release issued by the GSMAi indicates that the growth of available 5G Standalone (SA) networks, and improved support for private and dedicated networks, will support a massive number of connected devices and help to realize the global IoT vision for the enterprise.

GSMAi data shows the enterprise segment now counts 10.7 billion IoT connections (versus 10.5 billion consumer connections) and this momentum is expected to continue, with enterprise connections more than doubling to 38.5 billion by 2030 and smart buildings and smart manufacturing accounting for 34 per cent and 16 per cent of total enterprise connections respectively.”

The release states that beyond 5G SA, “the availability of 5G-Advanced with 3GPP Release 18 will be another key 5G milestone in IoT delivery, providing the catalyst for new 5G investment throughout 2024 and into 2025. GSMAi data shows over half of operators expect to begin deploying 5G-Advanced within a year after commercial availability of 5G-Advanced solutions, driven by priority use cases such as 5G multicast services and low-cost IoT support.”

GSMAi predicts a fourfold rise in mobile data traffic between now and 2030 with expansions in 5G coverage and capacity playing a prominent role, showcasing the importance of continued infrastructure investments. It is predicted that monthly global mobile data traffic per connection will grow from 12.8 GB in 2023 to 47.9 GB in 2030.

The increasing use of Generative AI (GenAI) – 56 per cent of operators are currently testing applications – will also likely fuel this growth, the release said. This will be driven by applications including the use of GenAI-enabled chatbots for customer service efforts and the continued growth of AI-generated video and music content, it added.

Authors of the report say that 5G is expected to “benefit all economic sectors of the global economy, although some industries will benefit more than others due to their ability to incorporate 5G use cases in their business. Over the next seven years, 36 per cent of benefits are expected to originate from the manufacturing sector, 15 per cent from public administration and 10 per cent from services, driven by applications in smart factories, smart cities and smart grids.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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