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By 2025, around 15% of the world’s population will be able to connect to next generation 5G networks promising ultra-fast data speeds, said an industry insider.

“By about 2025, we think that most markets around the world will have launched 5G,” said Julian Gorman, head of Asia Pacific at GSMA, a UK-based organization that represents mobile operators worldwide.

By that year, half of users will come from Asia-Pacific, Gorman told TechNode at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Shanghai on June 27.

As of June, South Korea, the US, Australia, and the UK have launched commercial 5G networks. China has granted commercial licenses to the country’s big three telecom operators last month, and the country is expected to launch the technology nationwide on October 1.

Gorman said initially a lot of 5G subscribers would come from China because the ecosystem in the country is starting to take off.

A recent report by research firm Canalys said 5G-enabled handsets would reach nearly 800 million units by 2023, and Greater China, which includes mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, will account for more than one-third of those shipments.

However, Gorman envisages some uncertainties around the telecoms supply chain and some operators are trying to ascertain whether they will have access to all the vendors that they usually use.

The risk is more evident when it comes to 5G-related equipment. The US government has been campaigning hard to urge allies to exclude Huawei equipment from their network roll-outs. Some countries including the US, Australia, and Japan, have banned Huawei equipment from their forthcoming 5G networks.

Gorman thinks a transparent framework formulated by stakeholders and countries will help 5G equipment vendors move forward with certainty, and a competitive supply chain is also welcomed.

“We need to move forward in a transparent way so that vendors can innovate and compete and make technology available—especially the 5G technology—for mobile operators together to launch this important technology, which is going to add so much to the economic value of the world,” he added.

Wei Sheng

Writing about semiconductors and telecommunications.

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