In a statement, the firm said the revenue from wireless infrastructure was expected to fall 4.4% to US$38.1 billion in 2020, adding that the investment made by communications service providers in 5G network infrastructure comprised 10.4% of total wireless infrastructure revenue in 2019.
This figure would reach 21.3% this year, Gartner added.
“Investment in wireless infrastructure continues to gain momentum, as a growing number of CSPs are prioritising 5G projects by re-using current assets including radio spectrum bandwidth, base stations, core network and transport network, and transitioning LTE/4G spend to maintenance mode,” said Kosei Takiishi, senior research director at Gartner.
Gartner said increasing competition among CSPs was causing the pace of 5G adoption to accelerate. The new O-RAN (open radio access network) and vRAN (virtualised RAN) ecosystem could disrupt current vendor-lock-in and promote 5G adoption by providing cost-efficient and agile 5G products in the future.
The analyst firm predicted that CSPs in Greater China (China, Taiwan and Hong Kong), mature parts of the Asia/Pacific, North America and Japan would achieve 95% 5G coverage of their national populations by 2023.
"Despite investment growth rates in 5G being slightly lower in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — excluding Greater China and Japan — CSPs in all regions are quickly redirecting new and discretionary spend to build out the 5G network and 5G as a platform,” said Takiishi.
He said over the short-term, Greater China would lead the world in 5G development, with 49.4% of worldwide investment in 2020 attributed to the region. Cost-effective infrastructure manufactured in China coupled with state sponsorship and reduced regulatory barriers was paving the way for major CSPs in China to quickly build 5G coverage.
However, other early adopting and technologically adept nations were not far behind.
Gartner said it expected 5G investment would rebound modestly in 2021 as CSPs sought to capitalise on changed behaviour sparked by elevated reliance of populations on communication networks. 5G investment was set to exceed LTE/4G in 2022.
The company added that CSPs would gradually add stand-alone capabilities to their non-stand-alone 5G networks, and predicted that by 2023, 15% of CSPs worldwide would operate standalone 5G networks that did not rely on 4G network infrastructure.
This would rapidly divert wireless investment away from LTE/4G and spending on legacy RAN infrastructure would rapidly decline.