In December 2021, the 3GPP approved the Release-18 package, officially launching 5G Advanced (with the planned freeze date in December 2023). ABI Research expects that 75% of 5G base stations will switch to 5G Advanced by 2030, five years after the estimated commercial debut.
5G Advanced will bring continuous enhancements to mobile network capabilities and use case-based support to help mobile operators with 5G commercialization, long-term development of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML), and network energy savings for a fully automated network and a sustainable future.
“In 5G Advanced, Extended Reality (XR) applications will promise monetary opportunities to both the consumer markets with use cases like gaming, video streaming, as well as enterprise opportunities such as remote working and virtual training,” says Gu Zhang, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, adding: “Therefore, XR applications are a major focus of 3GPP working groups to significantly improve XR-specific traffic performance and power consumption for the mass market adoption.”
Another prominent feature is AI/ML, which will be crucial for future networks given “the predictive rapid growth in 5G network usage and use case complexities which cant be managed by legacy optimization approaches with presumed models”. System-level network energy saving is also an essential aspect, as operators need to guarantee network performance across a range of use cases while simultaneously reducing deployment costs.
Consumer markets are predicted to experience 5G network infrastructure upgrades faster than enterprises. While ABI Research predicts that three-quarters of base stations will be upgraded to 5G Advanced, this ratio is only about 50% in the enterprise market. In the early stage of the commercial launch, between 2024 and 2026, the number of 5G-Advanced devices per radio base station will rapidly grow as devices expand faster than network deployments during that time.
Although it will take two to three years for 5G Advanced to become commercial, Zhang notes that the competition has already started. Industry titans like Ericson, Huawei, Nokia, ZTE, and Qualcomm have trialed their AI/ML solutions with mobile carriers around the world. Traffic throughputs, network coverage, power saving, anomaly detection, etc. will all continue to improve as a result of ongoing progress in this field.
Different from previous generations, 5G creates an ecosystem for vertical markets such as automotive, energy, food and agriculture, city management, government, healthcare, manufacturing, and public transportation. The influence on the domestic economy from the telco players will be more significant than before and that trend will continue for 5G-Advanced onward. Network operators and vendors should keep close to the regulators and make sure all parties involved grow together when the time-to-market arrives.Gu Zhang, ABI Research
The aforementioned findings are contained in ABI Research’s 5G-Advanced and the Road to 6G report. These kinds of reports provide an in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a particular technology.