Event News

GSMA MWC Barcelona Trend Watch – what comes after one billion 5G connections? The 2nd Wave of 5G

GSMA MWC Barcelona Trend Watch – what comes after one billion 5G connections? The 2nd Wave of 5G

By Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence

As forecast by GSMA Intelligence at the start of 2022, the mobile industry celebrated an incredible milestone as the first billion 5G connections were made by the end of 2022. While this is a key turning point for the industry, it was one of many important 5G accomplishments realised in 2022, including:

  • Standalone and mmWave 5G momentum
  • Early messaging and interest around 5G-Advanced
  • The launch of 5G in India

Individually, each of these represents unique aspects of 5G deployment and the wider 5G ecosystem. Together, they point to the fact that we are entering the 2nd Wave of 5G deployment.

Where the 1st Wave of 5G was driven by relatively mature markets and consumer use cases like eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband), the 2nd Wave will engage a diverse set of new audiences. To be sure, many familiar dynamics will remain, including a focus on compelling and affordable devices, continued network modernisation, and “the three S’s” – sustainability, security, and spectrum. However, the extension to new use cases and markets will challenge the mobile ecosystem to prove that 5G truly is flexible enough to meet diverse industry-, market- and operator-specific demands in a way that’s both inclusive and innovative.

In short, it’s no exaggeration to say that this 2nd Wave will be more important than the 1st Wave. Yes, 5G has got off to an incredible start. But now it must deliver, enriching lives and societies in all corners of the world.

That’s quite a tall order. So will 5G step up?

It is very likely that the 2nd Wave will be successful in extending the reach and value of 5G in a sustainable and secure manner. The ecosystems of operators, solution providers, and end-users (consumer and enterprise) will demand that it succeeds in living up to its potential.

The real question, then, is how quickly the 2nd Wave will unfold – will we see evidence of it in 2023? Will economic headwinds mean that the 2nd Wave gets off to slower start than its predecessor? Will 4G remain the dominant mobile broadband technology well beyond 2025?

It may seem trite to suggest that the answer is “time will tell.” But that’s completely accurate.

Looking ahead

That makes MWC Barcelona 2023, in turn, one of the most important editions in the MWC series. At the dawn of 5G’s next phase, MWC Barcelona provides an incredible opportunity to take stock of the accomplishments we’ve made as an industry, but also gain insights into the industry’s trajectory.

It’s why I’ll be there in February with the GSMA Intelligence team, and why I hope you will be too.

Register for your place today.