5G connections to reach 3.2 billion by 2026

The total number of 5G connections will reach 3.2 billion by 2026, rising from 310 million in 2021, a study from Juniper Research has found.

5G connections 2026

To maximise the monetization of this significant growth in connections, it predicts operators will accelerate investment into standalone 5G networks to best position their services to manage future capacity.

Standalone 5G networks leverage next-generation technologies, such as network orchestration tools, to enable operators to monetise data‑intensive use cases, like remote healthcare and mobile gaming.

Operators must monetise value-added 5G services

The study identified automating network orchestration tools as a key priority for operators in monetising their 5G services. These tools allow operators to adapt network conditions based on AI analysis of traffic; providing more bandwidth to connections that need it, and maintaining service performance.

By 2026, the report predicts that the average revenue per 5G smartphone connection will fall to $17 globally, from $29 in 2021; significantly impacting operator revenue. To alleviate this decline, it recommends that operators leverage orchestration tools to retain a network’s highest throughput and lowest latency for connections that require it.

By utilizing this approach, operators can justify charging a premium to these prioritised connections over other 5G connections, and slow this declining average revenue.

Asia Pacific to account for 2 billion 5G connections by 2026

The report found that over 60% of global 5G connections will be located in the Asia Pacific region by 2026. Network orchestration technologies, alongside mmWave frequencies that enable data-intensive 5G services, will be a key driver in creating an ecosystem in this region that allows mobile subscribers to leverage 5G networks for emerging mobile services, whilst maintaining network performance.

Report co-author Dave Bowie remarked: “Operators in China, Japan and South Korea have all implemented lower subscription costs, which have accelerated 5G adoption, thus enabling these subscribers to explore novel services that require 5G connectivity.”

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