China to Dominate 5G Deployment Despite Early Lead by USA and South Korea

According to ABI Research, 5G is expected to have 12 million connections worldwide by the end of 2019. This number will then skyrocket to 205 million worldwide at the end of 2020, thus starting the golden age of 5G.

The next generation of cellular technology is expected to grow much faster than anticipated with 5G connections expected to overtake 4G connections in 2025. ABI Research expects approximately 3 billion 5G connections in 2025 with 4G declining from its current 3.9 billion to 2.2 billion at the end of the same year. 

Despite the challenges faced by early adopters and the relatively high prices of 5G-capable smartphones in 2019, 5G will reach the mass market mid-2020, by which time China will start to dominate in terms of connections, and as a result, market interest and technology expertise. The infrastructure value chain is maturing, handset vendors are manufacturing mid-tier 5G handsets, and consumers are now discovering higher speeds, better user experiences, and new services, including Cloud Gaming and AR/VR applications. All of these will contribute to the explosion of consumer 5G in 2020. 

The report expects China to dominate 5G deployments. After all, mobile service providers have already deployed 5G in 50 cities before launching in November 2019. Chinese operators are forecasted to have 143 million subscribers at the end of 2020, which will represent an overwhelming 70% of total connections worldwide. In contrast, U.S. operators will reach approximately 28 million in the same year. In 2025, China is expected to have 1.1 billion 5G subscribers and the United States, 318 million. 

Globally, ABI Research expects mobile service providers to spend nearly US$1.2 trillion in the next 5 years to build out their networks and will generate nearly US $6.2 trillion in service revenues from the consumer market alone. Although most mobile 5G subscribers will be in China, mobile service provider revenues will still be higher in the United States in 2025, mainly driven by higher subscription prices. 

These findings are from ABI Research’s Network Technology and Market Tracker market data report. This report is part of the company’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights.