From a new report by Juniper Research, the number of 5G IoT roaming connections will reach 142 million by 2027. This is a huge increase from the 15 million this year. It’s predicted that IoT will account for 27% of all 5G roaming connections in the same year.
The growth over these four years will be driven by increasing deployments of 5G standalone networks- something we can already see happening. As customers warm up to the idea of 5G, demand for 5G standalone networks will inevitably increase. These will facilitate higher speeds, lower latency, private networks, advanced services and more- meaning demand for standalone-specific agreements will grow. Basically, as time goes on, customers will want the same quality as at home when they’re roaming.
While that’s a more direct issue between consumer and enterprise services, it’ll have a knock-on effect in IoT too. Faster speeds and lower latencies are great news for 5G IoT roaming and can help improve the estimate of the roaming model, as reported. When using these enterprise private networks, networks operators will be able to monetise incoming traffic based on the quality of service. This would be a great help to mission-critical services such as health care, augmented reality and autonomous driving.
To dampen expectations somewhat, Juniper Research comments that the use of 5G for IoT is ”not an absolute necessity”. This is true, as is the fact that migration of IoT devices to 5G networks will be very gradual. They predict that the majority of sensors and devices will remain on LTE-M and NB-IoT networks. It mentions the transition however, noting that ”the transition to 5G NSA networks being necessary to fulfill specific use cases”. Overall, the ability to support traffic between both networks will be vital in the current environment that includes standalone and non-standalone networks.
Where will the majority of this be based?
Regionally, Juniper Research identifies West Europe as a key market for this.
Despite the region accounting for only 5% of the population, it’s expected to house 21% of 5G IoT roaming connections by 2027. Western European operators making efforts to launch these 5G standalone networks will be key to incentivising IoT users.
Where we’re at currently is around 35 operators offering 5G SA worldwide, out of the 240 who have brought commercial 5G services to market. Just days after a report explaining this, Vodafone would go live with their 5G Ultra in parts of the UK. Further afield, however, Nokia demonstrated Qatar’s first data call in 5G SA with Ooredoo, considering the potential of new revenue streams for the telco.
Juniper analyst Elisha Sudlow-Poole spoke on the report: ”To further capitalise on the growth of 5G IoT roaming in West Europe, operators must form roaming agreements that leverage standalone 5G networks to improve network performance for roaming connections and provide the same level of service when roaming as they do on home networks.”