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5G to generate 77% of global operator revenue by 2026, as MNOs benefit from exponential cellular data growth 

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Revenues generated from 5G services will reach $600 bn by 2026; representing 77% of global operator-billed revenue, new research suggests.

Juniper Research has found adoption of 5G services across consumer and IoT sectors has been driven by a strong uptake of 5G-capable devices, coupled with attractive 5G subscription pricing models, despite the semiconductor crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new research, Operator Revenue Strategies: Challenges, Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2021-2026, urges operators to leverage their 5G networks and high levels of virtualisation to develop new IP-based services that generate additional revenue streams. It identified emerging 5G-based consumer devices, such as laptops and mobile routers, as a key area of focus for operators over the next few years.

Multi-device subscriptions key to maximising 5G revenue

The research anticipated as geographical 5G coverage expands, operators will capitalise on revenue streams beyond smartphones. It recommends bundling multiple device subscriptions under a single recurring payment to enable operators to benefit from connectivity revenue from other consumer devices.

Research co-author Charles Bowman explains: “Device vendors are capitalising on faster networks to add mobile connectivity to new consumer devices, and operators must respond by enabling users to access 5G across multiple devices under a single subscription; allowing subscribers to conveniently manage data.

Cellular data to grow 300% over next five years

The report forecasts the amount of cellular data generated will reach 2,900 exabytes by 2026; rising from 720 exabytes in 2021. This represents a growth of 300% over the next five years. It predicts this growth will be driven by an increasing demand for data over 5G connections and a substantial growth in cellular IoT devices.

Cellular IoT devices, including smart city devices, smart home sensors and connected agriculture, will grow substantially over the next five years. By 2026, the research predicts the number of cellular IoT devices will reach 6 billion; exceeding the global number of smartphones for the first time.

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