It will take more than five years for 5G to reach 100 million subscriber mark—two years longer than 4G, according to forecasts from ABI research. 4G subscriber growth was much faster than with previous generations, reportedly fueled by the capabilities of increasingly powerful smartphones and the availability of 4G devices. 5G subscriber growth will likely be a bit more muted at first due to the increased complexity of 5G cells and networks, but it will pick up in 2023.
“There are a number of commonalities between countries that are early builders of 5G networks,” said Philip Solis, research director. “They have a large population, of which a large percentage is living in urban areas. They also have many companies pushing the envelope with IoT strategies. These countries will drive 5G subscriber volumes. These are the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom in order of 5G subscribers in 2025.”
5G will reportedly encompass spatial division as the foundation of the air interface, leveraging techniques like massive MIMO—achievable in devices because of the high frequency of spectrum that will be used—and 3D beamforming to form narrow beams that divide the space around a 5G base station. Client devices will have links to multiple cells simultaneously for robust connectivity. Spectrum will be used flexibly and shift as needed between access and fronthaul and backhaul. The waveform and modulation scheme are the least clear aspects of 5G currently.
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