5G infrastructure spending set to double this year

(Image credit: Google)

Investments in 5G infrastructure will nearly double during 2020 as mobile operators around the world continue their investments in next-generation networks.

According to Gartner, spending will increase by 96 per cent to $8.3 billion – accounting for a fifth (21.3 per cent) of all expenditure on wireless equipment. In 2019, 5G kit made up just 10.4 per cent of the market – the same proportion as 3G.

The overall market for cellular equipment will actually fall by 4.4 per cent this year as the industry recovers from the impact of Covid-19 but will rebound in 2021.

5G investments

In the short term, Greater China will be responsible for half of all 5G purchases thanks to cost-effective infrastructure, lower regulatory barriers and state sponsorship.

By 2022 it is thought that 5G investments will outpace 4G and by 2023, 15 per cent of operators will have launched Standalone 5G networks (SA 5G) that do not rely on 4G cores to transmit data. This, along with the advent of O-RAN and vRAN technologies, will stimulate the 5G market and cause a decline in 4G and legacy radio network spending.

“Investment in wireless infrastructure continues to gain momentum, as a growing number of CSPs are prioritizing 5G projects by reusing current assets including radio spectrum bandwidths, base stations, core network and transport network, and transitioning LTE/4G spend to maintenance mode,” said Kosei Takiishi, senior research director at Gartner.

“Early 5G adopters are driving greater competition among CSPs. In addition, governments and regulators are fostering mobile network development and betting that it will be a catalyst and multiplier for widespread economic growth across many industries.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.