5G Wireless Infrastructure: An Evolving Market

5G is likely to be the key enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT) that would provide a platform to connect a large number of sensors, edge devices and actuators across end-use industries.

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Illustration: © IoT For All

Fifth generation (5G) wireless systems or fifth generation mobile networks are next-generation advanced telecommunications technologies that enable high-speed data transfer, high system spectral efficiency (implies larger data volume) and have provisions for connecting multiple devices simultaneously with relatively low battery consumption. 5G is likely to be the key enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT) that would provide a platform to connect a large number of sensors, edge devices and actuators across end-use industries.

5G infrastructure products and solutions assist in the smooth flow of data, which includes transmission and reception of data, over 5G networks. 5G network infrastructure includes hardware components, software-based technologies for network operations and core semiconductor chipsets.

5G chipsets will be integral parts of smartphones, tablets, laptops, C-V2X devices and routers in the future. The 5G chipset market has been segmented on the basis of IC types into radio frequency ICs (RFICs; RF transceiver ICs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs; also known as application processors in smartphones), cellular or baseband ICs and millimeter wave (mmWave) ICs.

Besides its use in consumer devices, an RFIC plays an important role in the network infrastructure. RFIC chips are used in small and macro cells and are used for radio-based communications. ASIC chipsets are used in consumer electronics, autonomous cars and industrial automation. Cellular ICs are included in consumer devices such as smartphones and customer premises equipment (CPE). mmWave ICs considered in this article are part of network infrastructure equipment. These are likely to play a crucial role in delivering gigabit fixed wireless access (FWA) services to houses, apartments and businesses. Qorvo and Anokiwave are the leading IC providers of the mmWave front-end technology.

Comparing Various Cell Types in the 5G Infrastructure Market

Cell TypeOutput Power (W)Coverage Area (km)Approx. Users
Femto Cell0.001–0.250.010–0.11–30
Pico Cell0.25–10.1–0.230–100
Micro Cell1–100.2–2.0100–2,000
Macro Cell>508–30>2,000

In a 5G network, connectivity and coverage areas can be improved by the large-scale deployment of connecting towers known as “small cells.” A small cell is a radio-access tower that helps connect a user’s cellular device and a base station. It’s a small base station that breaks down a cell site into smaller sections known as microcells. Small cells provide high-quality cellular coverage and large capacities for homes, enterprises, metropolitan public spaces and rural public spaces as they include low-power wireless access points.

Depending on size, they can operate in a licensed or unlicensed spectrum. Network operators mainly face issues of providing high-speed data communications with high reliability in 5G networks, which is one of the major challenges. To overcome this challenge, network operators look to deploying small cells to address the need for high-speed and reliable data communications.

Key Applications in the 5G Wireless Infrastructure Market

The consumer electronics segment is estimated to hold the largest share of 24.1 percent of the overall 5G infrastructure market in 2020. The market growth is attributed to the proliferation of 5G-enabled consumer electronic devices in the market. Post commercialization of 5G network, demand for 5G-enabled smartphones with high-speed Internet connectivity is likely to increase. According to our research at MarketsandMarkets, the market for industrial automation is expected to hold 15.2 percent of the overall 5G infrastructure market for applications in 2020 owing to the growing demand for process automation in various industries such as manufacturing, and process and food industries.

To effectively carry out various processes in these industries, an appropriate flow of data and information at the right time and place is crucial. With the implementation of 5G networks, strong data network with high speed and minimal delay can be easily achieved, which would, in turn, find applications in industrial automation and autonomous driving.

North America has emerged as a prominent region—in terms of testing, adoption, implementation and development of 5G network services and applications. It’s anticipated that the strong demand for 5G networks would arise across industries such as energy and utilities, consumer electronics and industrial automation. 5G networks are driven by the presence of key market players that mainly serve North America. For example, Qualcomm, Intel, Cisco and AT&T are among the major companies in the 5G market that are actively participating in the development of 5G technology. Furthermore, Europe is well known for its well-established high-tech wireless communication and related infrastructure. Therefore, there are huge opportunities for the growth of the 5G infrastructure market.

The use of 5G network in home automation, public safety and surveillance and retail is expected to drive its growth in Europe. The European Commission has created an alliance for IoT innovation that aims at contributing to the IoT market by introducing new technological advancements that would help a few major sectors, such as manufacturing, healthcare, government and retail, adopt IoT technology for various purposes. Hence, the growth of the IoT market is expected to provide huge opportunities for the 5G infrastructure market.

In APAC, the 5G infrastructure market is expected to grow at the fastest rate during the forecast period. Japan, South Korea and China are among the industrialized countries that offer leading technology innovators and adopters. In China, the IMT 5G promotion group was set up to coordinate 5G-related activities in industries and academia. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) are the participants in the group. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, a Japanese communications ministry, has developed plans to support domestic companies to launch 5G mobile services by 2020. It signifies that the government will meet private sector companies to discuss the development of 5G technologies.

Major Providers in the 5G Infrastructure Ecosystem

CategoryProvider
Network Equipment Vendors—Huawei Investment & Holding Co., Ltd. (China)
—Nokia Corporation (Finland)
—Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Sweden)
—Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (South Korea)
—NEC Corporation (Japan)
—ZTE Corporation (China)
—Cisco Systems, Inc. (US)
—Fujitsu Ltd (Japan)
—Juniper Networks, Inc. (US)
—VMware, Inc. (US)
—Hewlett Packard Enterprise (US)
Chipset Manufacturers—QUALCOMM, Inc. (US)
—Intel Corporation (US)
—MediaTek Inc. (Taiwan)
—Analog Devices, Inc. (US)
—Analog Devices, Inc. (US)
—MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings Inc.  (US)
—Qorvo, Inc. (US)
—Cavium, Inc. (US)
Telecom Providers—T-Mobile US, Inc. (US)
—AT&T Inc. (US)
—Verizon Communications Inc. (US)
—KT Corporation (South Korea)
—China Mobile Ltd (China)
—SK Telecom Co Ltd (South Korea)