In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile

Forecasts of near-term 5G revenue are nearly meaningless, since most of the revenue will come from mobile customers shifting from 4G to 5G networks. So most of the 5G revenue is a simple substitution of 5G for 4G, with the exception of any price increases suppliers are able to command for 5G service.

The salient exception will be fixed wireless, as that represents an incremental new revenue stream for most mobile operators. When fixed wireless is deployed outside an existing fixed network geography, the upside is close to 100 percent incremental.

In-region deployments are a mix of substitution (as has been the case for customers moving from digital subscriber line to fiber connections) and some hoped-for amount of market share shifts (if a mobile operator can take share from a competitor in the fixed services market).

A third possibility is incremental revenue upside from existing customers upgrading to higher-price tiers of service. In other cases, gains will come in the form of avoided churn or new customer gains from new bundle propositions that were not possible before high-speed fixed wireless was available.

Longer term, incremental new revenue from autonomous vehicles, internet of things or other new use cases represent the key incremental revenue opportunities.

In the early going, observers will watch a few countries for clues:  the United States, China, Japan and South Korea. Those four countries will represent more than 85 percent of potential 5G deployments.

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