Five 5G Trends To Watch In 2022

ABI Research’s global team of analysts are continuously examining current trends in technology and key markets to produce accurate forecasts and provide guidance to our clients. The comprehensive technology forecast for this year includes several aspects of the 5G market. Here are five key points about what will and will not happen on the 5G front in 2022.

  1. China Will Become the Leading Nation in the 5G Enterprise Market

With more than 400 million 5G end-device connections, China is the world’s largest 5G consumer market. It has already deployed 5G applications across 20 different industries, primarily in manufacturing, energy, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture.

A key success factor is China’s spectrum strategy. The authority has reserved the 6 GHz band for 5G deployment entirely, and that plays an important role in providing wide-area coverage like the 3.5 GHz band, providing opportunities for future enterprise applications.

  1. 5G Supply Chain Challenges Will Not Be Lifted

The U.S. government entity list has created a balkanized market that blocks western nations from access to the lucrative and massive Chinese 5G market. ABI Research expects these restrictions to remain in place in 2022 without further escalation from either side.

Due to the sustained semiconductor shortage, Huawei and ZTE are expected to face additional shortages for their flagship products, namely smartphones and Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (mMIMO) antennas, causing them to slow down sales in markets outside China to satisfy large orders by China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom.

  1. 5G Enterprise Spectrums in the Asia-Pacific Region Will Not Achieve Alignment

In the Asia-Pacific region, there is a disparate outlook on the prospects of 5G enterprise spectrums. While China has pushed the 6 GHz spectrum band, South Korea has published the release of the 4.7 GHz and 28 GHz bands to operators and non-telcos as enterprise spectrums for 5G deployment. Taiwan set off on its own direction, having established the world’s first smart factory powered by a private 5G mmWave network in 2020.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is likely not supporting the drive of 5G enterprise spectrums, and no 5G enterprise spectrum has been published to date for Indonesia. These examples indicate the disparity between the 5G deployment methodology across regions, which would likely perpetuate until new policies or plans are launched to override the existing ones.

  1. 5G Will Not Permeate the Production Line

As of July 2021, there were 84 sites with publicly announced private cellular network (4G/5G) deployments (see ABI Research’s Shared Spectrum and Private Networks Tracker report). All are at large companies and facilities like ABB, Airbus, Daimler AG, Ford, Haier, Konecranes, and Nippon Steel. Important, current deployments are mostly used as campus networks or in a lab or intermediary production development center for non-industrial production applications.

In its current form, working with and trialing 5G in manufacturing favors large companies/factories with the R&D capital to test and learn. These larger companies and locations have started to evaluate the cost and benefits of different deployment scenarios (a key progression); however, 5G will not be relied upon for production-critical applications at scale until 2024.

  1. 5G Positioning Will Not Replace Alternative RTLS Technologies

The ability of 5G to combine connectivity with high-precision positioning into a single infrastructure has the potential to significantly enhance the value proposition of 5G rollouts and enable new Location-Based Services (LBS) within a variety of enterprises. End-market verticals, such as manufacturing, healthcare, warehousing and supply chain, transportation, and oil, gas, and mining are among them.

Implementing 5G positioning can make LBS more accurate, precise, reliable, and seamless across both indoor and outdoor environments. However, it is still in the early days of maturity, and there are several obstacles that will have to be addressed before it can be widely adopted.

For more insight into technology trends that will—and won’t—happen in 2022, download the whitepaper 70 Technology Trends That Will—and Will Not—Shape 2022.