5.5 billion 5G connections by 2030, according to GSMAi

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GSMA Intelligence has predicted that by 2030, the global number of 5G connections will soar to 5.5 billion, constituting 51 percent of all mobile connections.

According to its report, Mobile Economy 2024, the London-based research firm reveals that 5G is the fastest mobile generation rollout to date, surpassing one billion connections by the end of 2022 and rising to 1.6 billion connections by the end of 2023.

GSMAi stated that as of January 2024, 261 operators in 101 countries had launched commercial 5G services, and more than 90 operators from 64 markets had committed to rollouts.

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

The report indicated that the growth of available 5G SA networks and improved support for private & dedicated networks would support a massive number of connected devices and help to realise the global IoT vision for enterprises.

GSMAi data shows the enterprise segment now counts 10.7 billion IoT connections (versus 10.5 billion consumer connections).

This momentum, according to the research firm, 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 percent and 16 percent of total enterprise connections, respectively.

The report said over half of operators expect to begin deploying 5G-Advanced within a year after the commercial availability of 5G-Advanced solutions, driven by priority use cases such as 5G multicast services and low-cost IoT support.

The Head of GSMAi, Peter Jarich, 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’re now seeing use cases beyond that.

“Opportunities are now appearing in areas including API monetisation 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.”

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.

The report foresees that monthly global mobile data traffic per connection will grow from 12.8 GB in 2023 to 47.9 GB in 2030.

In terms of the increasing use of generative AI, 56% of operators are currently testing applications, which will also likely fuel this growth.

This will be driven by applications including the use of GenAI-enabled chatbots for customer service efforts or the continued growth of AI-generated video and music content, the report stated.

“New use cases will deliver new revenue streams for operators, which in turn brings a new focus to billing for 5G services. As more 5G SA networks became available, a new standard for billing was required to support the rollout of advanced network services and the flexible billing process that 5G SA cores offer.”