Operator infrastructure spending
Big Data Federation predicts that the cellular wireless infrastructure spending will remain flat throughout 2019 and 2020 and will gradually increase from 2021 as 5G deployments accelerate. Operators’ global infrastructure spending peaked at approx. $195B in 2015 due to 4G deployments across the globe. Since 2015, mobile operators infrastructure spending has been reduced and leveled off at around $160B per year as 4G network deployments have reached their maturity. 5G will also bring a significant growth in small cells deployments.

5G spectrum initiatives in the US
Early commercial 5G services in the U.S. are providing enhanced broadband services based on a high-frequency spectrum (shorter range but higher capacity). To fully realize the promise of mobile 5G in terms of capacity and coverage, high-band will need to be augmented by low- and mid-band wave spectrums (longer ranges). With its auctions in 2018 and 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are releasing almost 5 GHz of 5G spectrum into the market in high-band; an additional 2.75 GHz is planned. In mid-band – best suited for 5G based on its balanced coverage and capacity characteristic – up to 844 MHz is expected to become available. In low-band – useful for wide coverage – the FCC is acting to improve use of low-band spectrum, with targeted changes to the 600, 800, and 900 MHz bands. In the unlicensed-band, the agency is creating new opportunities for the next generation of Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz and above 95 GHz band according to FCC.

Setting the stage for interoperability
3GPP approved the completion of the standalone to deliver the first set of 5G standards (Release-15) in September 2018, with efforts ongoing to ensure full functional integrity and interoperability of 5G new radio (NR) specifications. Network operators have been fine-tuning their software using equipment that complies with the completed standard. Carriers are planning to flip the switch on their 5G network in 1H19. Verizon Wireless has already started with a non-industry-standard 5G solution and will upgrade it to standard over the coming months. T-Mobile has similarly showcased a field trial based with Nokia equipment and has also inked a 5G deal with Ericsson. Verizon and Samsung will release 5G smartphone in the U.S. in 1H19. Apple will most likely wait until 2020 to release 5G phones.