A new report from the GSMA cautions that while operators look to the future of 4G and 5G, they must not disregard their legacy 2G and 3G networks.
By 2025, the report claims that around two thirds of all mobile network traffic will be on 4G and 5G networks. However, it will be a different story in emerging markets, with the majority of users continuing to have access only to older technology standards. This means that billions of mobile users in Africa, India and Latin America will remain on 2G and 3G up to 2025.
However, the importance of 3G is not limited to developing markets, with the GSMA noting that its research had found that around 20% of mobile traffic was delivered via 3G networks in the US and Europe. This underlines the importance of operators maintaining their legacy networks while investing in newer deployments.
Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said: “We are at the dawn of a new era in mobile with the imminent launch of the first 5G networks and the Internet of Things poised to further transform the way we live and work. Meanwhile, operators continue to expand and upgrade their 4G networks in order to provide an evolutionary path into the 5G era.”
“In the years ahead, mobile network operators will need to balance the capital expenditure demands of deploying their 5G networks and extending the reach of their 4G and LTE networks, with the operational expense of continuing to run their legacy network infrastructure. In order to do this, they will need to consolidate as many aspects of their mobile network infrastructure as possible.”