Report: COVID-19 disruptions will drop 5G network infrastructure revenues by 10%

April 16, 2020
ABI Research projects that the current virus outbreak will likely delay the deployment of advanced 5G NR systems, including Massive MIMO and active antennas that several operators have already started deploying.

COVID-19 pandemic disruptions will cause 2020 5G network infrastructure revenues to fall by as much as 10% of a forecasted US $2.1 billion, according to global technology market advisory firm ABI Research.

As stated by the analyst, "The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a crippling effect, not only on service industries, but also on manufacturing enterprises, including 5G infrastructure vendors."

ABI adds, "Despite the current ongoing discussion on OpenRAN and open networks, most advanced 5G networks still rely on Tier One infrastructure vendors and their supply chain has been disrupted. The shortages of component manufacturing and/or network workforce deployment, such as integration engineers, are the main reasons [for] this disruption." 

Jiancao Hou, senior analyst at ABI Research, observes that the current virus outbreak will likely delay the deployment of advanced 5G NR systems, including Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) and active antennas that several operators have already started deploying.  

"This may mean that operators that have already deployed a significant number of base stations will be in a better position to become early adopters and benefit from an earlier transition from previous generations to 5G, but this will rely on the availability of relevant handsets," says Hou.  

ABI's latest research further forecasts that, in the short term, 5G radio deployments will be delayed further due to geopolitical constraints and COVID-19. Nonetheless, the analyst observes that, in the longer term, while 5G's momentum will be slowed, new use cases will emerge.  

Hou adds, "It is important for mobile operators to broaden their supply chain and avoid a single-vendor infrastructure market. Apart from that, the effects of the virus outbreak will likely accelerate more innovative use cases and services. For example, considering a 5G Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) scenario, if surgery and health monitoring can be done remotely, the doctor will not need to physically meet the patient infected with the virus." 

ABI concludes that "a great lesson" is being provided by the virus' breakout to both network operators and related authorities. "The former should be able to manage the risk of relying on a few vendors dominating the infrastructure market," says Hou. "The latter should embrace new technologies and understand how these can be used in turbulent times to improve business and society." 

For a clearer picture of the current and future ramifications of COVID-19 across technologies and vertical markets, including 5G and Mobile Network Infrastructure, download the whitepaper Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets at

About the Author

Matt Vincent | Senior Editor

Matt Vincent is a B2B technology journalist, editor and content producer with over 15 years of experience, specializing in the full range of media content production and management, as well as SEO and social media engagement best practices, for both Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine and its website He currently provides trade show, company, executive and field technology trend coverage for the ICT structured cabling, telecommunications networking, data center, IP physical security, and professional AV vertical market segments. Email: [email protected]