Wireless & Mobile Landscape

5G in the U.S.: What will it cost to build?

In this market study, iGR presents a forecast for the cost of building and deploying 5G networks in the U.S. beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2025. This forecast is only for build costs; it does not include operating costs.

Put simply, the first “5G” networks are likely to include some or all of the following:

– A virtualized mobile core over which a preponderance of traffic flows. Given the enormity of the task, this is several years out – 2018 or 2019. Note that virtualization is not a 5G prerequisite. However, most mobile operators are moving toward virtualizing network functions and 5G will rely heavily on the added flexibility, and operating and capital cost reductions (among other benefits) introduced by virtualization.

– Some type of “evolved” IoT use case that goes beyond today’s examples of metering, connected cars and homes, and B2B applications that connect stoves and vending machines to their owners’ back-end systems – and many other examples.

– LTE-Advanced deployed along with new spectrum – e.g., the WCS spectrum that AT&T will likely roll out in 2016. This new spectrum might also include unlicensed 3.5 GHz, newly auctioned 600 MHz or some additional spectrum the FCC frees up for “shared use” in the next few years. The category of “new spectrum” is unlikely to include either centimeter wave or millimeter wave used for transmissions between user elements and network elements.

The sideshow with 5G, of course, is the marketing associated with the term itself. Will history repeat itself? Or will operators show some restraint and only market their improving networks as 5G when the ITU-R releases its IMT-2020 5G standard in the 2020 time frame?


Key Questions Answered

  • What are the various 3GPP standards leading up to 5G and what are they likely to contain?
  • What are some of the goals and use cases for 5G?
  • What is 5G? How is it defined and/or viewed right now?
  • What is in 5G? When will 5G happen?
  • What are mobile operators in the U.S. currently doing with their networks?
  • How close are U.S. LTE networks to 5G now?
  • How will U.S. mobile operators get from their 4G LTE networks of today to tomorrow’s 5G networks?
  • How much will it cost to deploy 5G in the U.S.?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators
  • Infrastructure OEMs
  • Small cell product and solution vendors
  • Backhaul service providers and equipment OEMs
  • Financial and investment analysts.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • Potential Requirements of 5G
  • What Operators Are Currently Doing for 5G
    • Densification In-building coverage
    • U.S. LTE Subscriber Growth
    • CRAN and CPRI
    • LTE Release 12
    • Virtualization and SDN
    • Overview of Operator Trends
  • 5G Timeline
  • What will 5G be Built On?
    • Some Features of 3GPP Release 12
    • Some Features of 3GPP Release 13
    • Spectrum Needs
    • How LTE Might Evolve
    • Challenges Along the Road to 5G
    • What will the first 5G networks look like?
  • Forecasting the Cost of 5G
    • Methodology and Assumptions
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Cost to Deploy 5G, 2017-2025 ($M)

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: Estimated 5G Network Build Out Costs, 2017-2025
  • Figure 1: Average Wired Broadband Latency, Reported by FCC in 2014
  • Figure 2: Timeline for IMT-2020 (5G)
  • Figure 3: Cost to Deploy 5G, 2017-2025 ($M)
  • Figure 4: Cost to Deploy 5G by Requirement, 2017-2025 ($M)
  • Figure 5: Cost to Deploy 5G by Requirement, 2017-2025 (Percentage Share)

For additional information on the 5G in the U.S.: What will it cost to build? market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.