Global 5G infrastructure revenue to hit US$4.2-billion in 2020

In 2020, worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will reach US$4.2-billion, an 89% increase from 2019 revenue of US$2.2-billion, according to Gartner, Inc.

Additionally, Gartner forecasts that investments in 5G NR network infrastructure will account for 6% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs) in 2019, and that this figure will reach 12% in 2020.

"5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will nearly double between 2019 and 2020," said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner. "For 5G deployments in 2019, CSPs are using non-stand-alone technology. This enables them to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G core network infrastructure."

In 2020, CSPs will roll out stand-alone 5G technology, which will require 5G NR equipment and a 5G core network. This will lower costs for CSPs and improve performance for users.

Table 1: Wireless Infrastructure Revenue Forecast, Worldwide, 2018-2021 (Millions of Dollars)









LTE and 4G

Small Cells

Mobile Core






























Source: Gartner (August 2019)

Accelerated rollout

According to Gartner, 5G services will launch in many major cities in 2019 and 2020.

"Services have already begun in the US, South Korea and some European countries, including Switzerland, Finland and the UK CSPs in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, Sweden, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have announced plans to accelerate 5G network building through 2020," the company added.

As a result, Gartner estimates that 7% of CSPs worldwide have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks.

In terms of 5G evolution in Africa and the continent's position, industry professionals believe that as the technology evolves, it will actually be a telling period for the development of 4G.

Mohamed Madkour, VP marketing and head of global wireless branding at Huawei, said recently that 4G development will play in the continent's migration to 5G, and the implications for operators, carriers and end-users.

"Every dollar spent on 4G is a 5G dollar... because 5G needs a blanket of nice experience, good coverage of 4G, because when you fall back, you don't fall back to 2G or something... you fall back to 4G , which is really good. So globally, carriers are strengthening the 4G layer while currently investing in 5G."

5G promises a rich experience for people, homes and industries, Madkour continued, and is expected to offer the speed required to enable services like AR, VR and high speed download of 8k video.

Hassen Hamza, Pre-Sales & Business Development Director, MEA, at Nexign, said while the first commercial services are only expected to launch in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2021, the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications is already impacting on the development of business support systems (BSS).

He added that CSPs can enhance their offerings with these evolved BSS systems "to deliver business and consumer solutions capable of meeting the growing demands of a digital environment and modern subscribers - digital natives."

Enterprises targeted

Although consumers represent the main segment driving 5G development, CSPs will increasingly aim 5G services at enterprises. 5G networks are expected to expand the mobile ecosystem to cover new industries, such as the smart factory, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, agriculture and retail sectors, as well as enable private networks for industrial users.

Equipment vendors view private networks for industrial users as a market segment with significant potential.

"It's still early days for the 5G private-network opportunity, but vendors, regulators and standards bodies have preparations in place," said Fabre. Germany has set aside the 3.7GHz band for private networks, and Japan is reserving the 4.5GHz and 28GHz for the same. Ericsson aims to deliver solutions via CSPs in order to build private networks with high levels of reliability and performance and secure communications. Nokia has developed a portfolio to enable large industrial organisations to invest directly in their own private networks.

"National 5G coverage will not occur as quickly as with past generations of wireless infrastructure," said Fabre. "To maintain average performance standards as 5G is built out, CSPs will need to undertake targeted strategic improvements to their 4G legacy layer, by upgrading 4G infrastructure around 5G areas of coverage. A less robust 4G legacy layer adjoining 5G cells could lead to real or perceived performance issues as users move from 5G to 4G/LTE Advanced Pro. This issue will be most pronounced from 2019 through 2021, a period when 5G coverage will be focused on hot spots and areas of high population density."