The impact of COVID-19 on 5G networks and services

20 May 2020 | Research

Stephen Sale | Rupert Wood | Caroline Gabriel | Janette Stewart | Tom Rebbeck

Strategy report | PPTX and PDF (16 slides) | IoT Services| Fixed Broadband Services| Mobile Services| Operator Investment Strategies| Next-Generation Wireless Networks

"COVID-19 offers operators a chance to stop and think about the scale and pace of their 5G investments."

This report examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on 5G networks and services. It looks at supply-side challenges such as constraints on network builds and delays to spectrum auctions and standards activity, as well as the impact on operator investment decisions. The report also considers how the pandemic will affect consumer demand for 5G mobile and fixed-wireless access (FWA), as well as emerging 5G use cases such as cloud gaming. We analyse the effect of the crisis on business demand for 5G services such as back-up connectivity for SMEs, and on industrial use cases such as private networks. The report also provides implications for telecoms operators and their suppliers.

The report takes a largely qualitative approach to assessing the impact of COVID-19 on operators’ 5G plans. Ongoing revisions to our forecasts will provide quantitative data on the impact of COVID-19 on metrics such as revenue and capex.

This report answers the following questions.

  • Does COVID-19 change the business case for 5G non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA)?
  • What will be the impact of COVID-19 on 5G capex in various regions?
  • Does the pandemic change the investment priorities of telecoms operators?
  • How will consumer demand for 5G mobile be affected?
  • Do some potential 5G use cases look more promising now?
  • How will 5G business services be affected by COVID-19?
  • What are the main 5G opportunities in the enterprise sector?

Supply-side and demand-side elements of 5G that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic


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