Understanding the potential economic value of 5G

In a recent report commissioned by Qualcomm and produced by IHS Economics and IHS Technology, the authors likened the potential transformative power of 5G the printing press, the steam engine, electricity, the telegraph and the internet. The group “views 5G as a catalyst that will thrust mobile technology into the exclusive realm of [general purpose technologies].

Major findings of the report include:

  • “In 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output..;
  • “The global 5G value chain will generate $3.5 trillion in output and support 22 million jobs in 2034..;

“The 5G value chain will invest an average of $200 billion annually to continually expand and strengthen the 5G technology base within network and business application infrastructure…”

Given the potential economics of 5G, it would appear the market is big enough to support a wide range of ecosystem stakeholders working together, in much the same way the 3GPP defines standards, to help unlock that value–a rising tide lifts all boats you prefer an aphorism.

To go far, go together

In February Derek Peterson, the CTO of Boingo Wireless, published “A Call for Convergence: A Manifesto,” addressing many of the issues we’ve examined in this report. Asked about what prompted him to write the piece, Peterson recalled sitting in a Wireless Broadband Alliance strategy meeting and realizing that “Everybody was trying to do everything. I realized we just didn’t trust each other. Everybody wouldn’t work together and they didn’t seem to realize they all co-existed together. We didn’t realize we shared ownership of this ecosystem. We’ve got to realize that coexistence and collaboration are key.”

As to how that relates to next-generation networks: “We’ve got to build a network that works across the globe. You have to work together or things won’t work. We’re going to have licensed unlicensed, shared…and for 5G to really happen, it all has to work together. If you think about the use cases, 5G is supposed to really, really fast. It’s also supposed to cover really long distances and really short distances. Having one technology do it all is kind of ludicrous. It’s just not possible. We need to have our system coexist together.”

Bill Cune, VP of Market Development, In-Building Wireless, Corning, agreed that a “rich ecosystem has to develop around 5G” for it deliver on the economic hype. He provided an analogy of the telecom crash in 2000. “Lots of people were building capacity out with all these speculative reasons. It was a very difficult time for many companies to get through that. The promises and the hype and the infrastructure build out did match the demand and the ability to sell and create services people were willing to pay for to justify the investment.” For 5G, “It can’t just be let’s build a network and they will come. Everybody has got to be doing their part.”

To learn more about how convergence as an industry, of wireline and wireless networks, and of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum is influencing 5G, register for this upcoming webinar.

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