Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri told an audience at the Mobile World Congress (MWC19) in Barcelona this week that, although it is early days, 5G is quickly moving ahead. He predicted the 5G ecosystem will stabilize in 2019, one year earlier than originally thought.
“It has been a mad rush. At times it felt like the wheels were going to come off the industry wagon, but they stayed on. As the year goes on, it will seem less rickety and more like a high-performance car,” Suri said.
Nokia expects its business to be soft in the first half 2019 and robust in the second half, with flat sales for the year, because of the staggered nature of the 5G deployments.
“If the first half is soft, there is only so much you can back into the second half. We believe 2019 will conclude with considerable momentum for Nokia and the market. We expect 2020 to be a year of growth for the market and Nokia,” Suri said.
Nokia hired Analysys Mason to do a market research report, called the 5G Maturity Index, which revealed that initial adoption of 5G will vary wildly between countries.
“After the market stabilizes, most operators expect it will take five years to roll 5G out to 75 percent of their customers,” Suri said. “That is pretty fast for a new generation of mobile technology. We expect a rush of early adopters and then a strong, steady rollout.”
Nokia has more than 3.8 million 5G-capable radios in the field, almost 100 5G trials with customers in every region of the world, and 20 5G contracts with carriers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, KT, SK Telecom and NTT docomo.
“The coming year will see staggered introductions of 5G to most countries around the world, new devices will be introduced, standards will get locked down, chipsets will be more readily available, spectrum will be released and infrastructure will be deployed,” Suri said.