IoT is set to push 5G connections into the billions

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By the time we reach 2027, there will be “billions” of 5G connections out there, all thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), new research has claimed.

A report from Juniper Research expects IoT connections to make up more than a quarter of all 5G roaming connections by that timeframe. In raw numbers, that’s 142 million connections, an increase of almost ten times, as this year - 15 million connections were recorded. 

The biggest growth driver will be the deployment of 5G standalone networks, Juniper further explains. Compared to today’s 5G networks, which heavily lean into 4G infrastructure, standalone 5G experience will offer even higher speeds and lower latency, but also private networks and many other advanced services. As a result, businesses and consumers will seek connectivity via autonomous driving, augmented reality tools, or healthcare tools.

Gradual transition

The jump won’t be sudden, Juniper also said. Most devices and sensors will remain on LTE-M and NB-IoT networks, while the transition to non-standalone 5G networks will be done on an as-needed basis. As a result, telecom operators will be expected to support blended traffic between LTE and 5G. 

Analyzing the current condition on a geographical level, Juniper sees Western Europe as a key IoT 5G roaming market. Currently, the region makes up roughly 5% of the global population but is expected to take up more than a fifth (21%) of 5G IoT roaming connections in five years. 

“To further capitalize on the growth of 5G IoT roaming in West Europe, operators must form roaming agreements that leverage standalone 5G networks to improve network performance for roaming connections, and provide the same level of service when roaming as they do on home networks,” said Juniper analyst Elisha Sudlow-Poole.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.