GSMA Intelligence estimates 5G connections reached 9.9 million in the fourth quarter, with 6.8 million in Asia, 1.9 million in North America and about 600,000 in the Middle East.

Rapidly falling handset prices are expected to fuel adoption as network deployments widen. GSMA Intelligence forecasts worldwide 5G connections to reach 1.8 billion by 2025.

The global average monthly data usage is expected to hit nearly 10GB in 2024.

Driving that increase in usage is a raft of new services, covering everything from 4K ultra-HD video and fast gaming to multi-screen viewing and immersive AR and VR. A major 5G market in the future will be enterprise applications.

While the benefits of 5G are many, mobile operators face a range of challenges as they look to launch the next-generation mobile service. These include significant investments, rising network complexity, launching a diverse range of services, network optimisation considerations as well as a number of spectrum limitations.

Deploying 5G is complex and requires coordinated planning and optimisation of services and networks. This starts with service models that analyse and predict usage and focus on evaluating service experience requirements and setting network coverage scope and quality.

It also requires investing in AI and big data capabilities to intelligently support new services, applications and user experiences.

The end-game is a faster deployment and an agile network capable of intelligently fixing problems, even before users notice them.

Joseph Waring,

Asia editor,
Mobile World Live