Does it matter how big 5G service revenues eventually will be? Yes and no.  The reason is that many of the gains will come as consumers and service providers shift from sales of 2G, 3G and 4G to the latest platform.

On the other hand, in the near and medium term, 4G revenues will matter much more than 5G.

By 2021, for example, Ericsson estimates there will be 150 million 5G subscriptions in service, compared to 4.1 billion LTE (4G) subscriptions. 

In the longer term, revenue gained by 5G accounts will largely replace lost revenues from older network subscriptions.

To the extent that a typical 5G account also represents higher average revenue per account, the switch to 5G will matter quite a lot.

Also the speed and magnitude of 5G adoption matters substantially for infrastructure suppliers and individual mobile operators who may be better placed, or worse prepared, for the shift, allowing market shares to shift and revenue profiles to change.

On a global basis, mobile operators will earn 5G revenues of $247 billion in 2025, with North America, Asia-Pacific, and Western Europe being the top markets, according to ABI Research.

“5G will be a fast growing cellular technology, most probably faster than preceding generations including 4G,” says Joe Hoffman, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research.