Uncertainty about “new revenue sources” typically is an issue when a new mobile generation is launched. That was true of 3G and 4G, and already is true for 5G. Service providers are not really sure where the early demand will be, or disagree about where they expect the demand to be, and nearly everyone is a bit uncertain about how wholly-new applications and revenue streams will develop.

That there is no global service provider consensus about which 5G applications will be important, early on, is normal.  In fact, one survey conducted on behalf of Ericsson found no agreement on the killer app for 5G, though obviously there was a majority who believed mobile broadband would be among the key uses. Nor is there agreement on whether consumers or business users will drive the early adoption.

Fixed wireless will be the lead application in North America and South America, says Glenn Laxdal, CTO and head of strategy at Ericsson North America.

Laxdal says a mixture of direct fiber and wireless will be used to balance performance and cost in the access business. Also, Ericsson’s tests show a higher antenna point results in significantly better performance and lower path-loss. When aiming for delivered 5G fixed bandwidth of 100 Mbps, a six-meter high radio will reach 350 meters, containing 100 to 120 homes. If antenna height is increased to 12 meters, the signal will propagate 500 meters and potentially reach 200 homes.

In some markets, likely including the United States, where 5G spectrum is likely to be available in lower bands as well as new millimeter wave regions (28 GHz and 39 GHz), 5G is likely to be useful in some scenarios for coverage, and it other cases for capacity, even if 5G typically is thought of as a capacity tool.

Fixed wireless is not expected to lead the commercial deployment of 5G in other regions, though.

In Europe, operators expect new revenue models and apps to drive adoption.

In North Asia, mobile broadband will be the lead app.