5G connections around the globe are rolling out much more quickly than 4G did, thanks largely to a higher demand for the next-generation technology according to the most recent report for the third quarter and full-year 2019 from Qualcomm. In fact, the difference in initial demand is wide enough that the company expects growth of around five times faster in terms of cell service operators and more than six times what 4G kicked off in terms of mobile OEMs.
By the numbers, Qualcomm predicts that as many as 20 OEMs and 20 carriers will launch 5G devices and 5G over the first 12-months from 5G's introduction commercially. Conversely, the numbers fell in at only 4 operators and just 3 manufacturers for that same period in 4G's lifecycle.
China seems to be at the center of it all but maybe not for Qualcomm
A significant portion of the growth is, Qualcomm says, down to growth in China and demand within the region. Unlike with 4G, China is building out 5G networks in the first 12 months. Commercial service was approved in the country in June and will be deploying 100,000 5G base stations by the end of the year — equivalent to an entire large carrier network in the US, according to the company.
Amid ongoing tensions between China and the US, that doesn't appear to be an area of the world where the premier smartphone chipset and radio manufacturer is going to do its best though.
Through early 2020, Qualcomm expects a continuing 'weakness in demand' in China coupled with continued growth for Huawei — which manufactures its own chips and has shifted toward creating its own solutions in areas as well.
The future looks bright for Qualcomm
Tying into the company's predictions, Qualcomm says that its 5G 'design wins' have doubled over the past three months. A substantial percentage of those wins are driven by solutions directly related to 5G sub-6GHz and millimeter-wave solutions. That should mean that Qualcomm will continue to do well in the company's home market following on 'solid' quarterly performance.
In the US, the two bands Qualcomm's efforts have hinged on play a central role in the rollout of 5G.
To begin with, the company indicates that part of the push is being driven by "Dynamic Spectrum Sharing" which is a method that carriers such as Sprint have been taking advantage of to reuse some of 4G's spectrum for 5G. For a huge proportion of the network rollouts, every company has also been utilizing exactly the range of the spectrum that Qualcomm's latest design wins are centered around.
The carriers are betting on that technology and on OEMs to push adoption even more quickly.
Verizon, for example, is expecting that 75-percent of smartphones launched next year will be 5G compatible while AT&T's bid to roll out 5G is tracking well with expectations that it will have that ready nationwide by mid-2020. The T-Mobile merger with Sprint will play a key role too, now that that's all but finalized since rapid 5G deployment has been a promise the carriers have made throughout the push to get the deal approved.