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the unstoppable growth of 5G technology with 1.6 billion connections

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the unstoppable growth of 5G technology with 1.6 billion connections

New data from GSMA Intelligence (GSMAi) shows that by 2029, more than half (51%) of mobile connections will be 5G technology, rising to 56% by the end of the decade.

The 5G network thus confirms itself as the dominant connectivity technology, with impressive growth positioning it as the fastest mobile generation ever deployed to date.

With one billion connections achieved by the end of 2022, 5G has exceeded all expectations, reaching 1.6 billion connections by 2023 and projecting towards an estimated 5.5 billion by 2030.

Global deployment of 5G

As of January 2024, 261 operators in 101 countries have launched commercial 5G services, with more than 90 operators across 64 markets announcing their deployment plans. Of the 261 commercial 5G services available, 47 are delivered by 5G Standalone (SA) networks, with an additional 89 deployments planned in the near term that will take advantage of network slicing, support for ultra-reliable low-latency communications and the simplified architecture of 5G SA networks .

Impact on IoT and Industry

The growth of 5G SA networks and improved support for private and dedicated networks will support a huge number of connected devices and help realize the global vision of IoT for enterprises. GSMAi data shows that the enterprise segment now has 10.7 billion IoT connections (compared to 10.5 billion consumer connections). This momentum is set to continue, with enterprise connections more than doubling, reaching 38.5 billion by 2030, with smart buildings and smart manufacturing representing 34% and 16% of total enterprise connections respectively.

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In addition to 5G SA, the availability of 5G-Advanced with 3GPP Release 18 will be another key milestone for IoT delivery, providing the catalyst for new 5G investments in 2024 and 2025. Over half of operators plan to begin deploying 5G-Advanced within one year of commercial availability of 5G-Advanced solutions, driven by priority use cases such as 5G multicast services and low-cost IoT support.

Growth of Mobile Data Traffic

GSMAi predicts a quadrupling of mobile data traffic between now and 2030, with expansions in 5G coverage and capacity playing a prominent role, highlighting the importance of continued infrastructure investment. Global monthly mobile data traffic per connection is expected to grow from 12.8 GB in 2023 to 47.9 GB in 2030.

The growing use of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) – 56% of operators are currently testing applications – will likely fuel this growth. This will be driven by applications such as the use of GenAI-enabled chatbots for customer service efforts or the continued growth of AI-generated video and music content.

Peter Jarich, head of GSMAi, he said during MWC where GSMA is the protagonist: “The initial success of 5G was driven by improved mobile bandwidth and related network traffic requirements. However, as consumer requirements will continue their trajectory, we are now seeing use cases beyond this. Opportunities now arise in areas such as API monetization and 5G RedCap for enterprise IoT, all supported by 5G-Advanced and 5G SA networks. 5G SA brings home the early promise of 5G, especially where massive slicing, low latency and IoT capabilities related to enterprise service needs can be met. 5G-Advanced will extend this even further.”

Revenue Realization

New use cases will bring new revenue streams for operators, thus bringing a new focus on billing for 5G services. As 5G SA networks have grown, a new billing standard has been needed to support the deployment of advanced network services and the flexible billing process that 5G SA cores offer.

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GSMA has worked with its members – including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and Vodafone – to develop and launch a new Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) to replace Transferred Account Procedures (TAP). The BCE standard represents a simplified billing model and will be a requirement for operators looking to deploy 5G SA networks and gain value from 5G wholesale itinerancy regulation, LTE and IoT operational efficiencies.

Marketing of Network APIs

The exposure of network APIs offers operators another way to maximize returns from their 5G investments and generate revenue beyond the traditional approach of selling connectivity services. GSMA Open Gateway is now enabling operators to unlock the full potential of new capabilities built into 5G networks. In the 12 months since launch, 47 mobile operator groups, representing 239 mobile networks and 65% of global connections, have committed to exposing their network APIs via CAMARA.

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