Network slicing revenues to grow over 100 times by 2029

5th December 2022
Kiera Sowery

Network slicing is emerging from gestation under 5G to surge over 100 times in revenue between 2022 and 2029.

Yet the surge will not really begin until 2024 when there is substantial base of 5G Standalone (SA) infrastructure to build on. SA represents the full 5G infrastructure including RAN (Radio Access Network) and Core, which is essential to unleash the full capability of network slices to enable differentiated services catering for multiple user groups and applications sharing the same physical network.

After 2024 5G network slicing growth will take off first in leading economies of North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, including China, while developing countries, especially in Sub Saharan Africa, will pick up towards the end of the decade.

These are conclusions from Network Slicing will unleash full potential of 5G, the latest report and forecast from RAN Research, the wireless analytics arm of Rethink Technology Research. The report predicts that network slicing will accrue additional revenues of $16.1 billion by 2029 over and above what the infrastructures would have earned otherwise. Some more bullish forecasts have attributed all future revenues earned by 5G networks to slicing, which makes no sense because most of those would have been accrued anyway. The RAN Research report is careful to identify where revenues will be generated directly by 5G network slicing, examining the impact on six leading vertical industry sectors, as well as the different geographies.

The report found that manufacturing will generate the biggest network slicing revenues by 2029 at 19% of the total, with energy/utilities and healthcare joint second on 15% each. Logistics/transportation will be next at 13%, followed by government/public sector on 10% and media/entertainment on seven percent.

The report discusses drivers for network slicing in each of those sectors, as well as obstacles to be overcome. One issue has been the impact of rules over network neutrality on 5G slicing, since they prohibit favoring one application, or user group, over any other, which is precisely what network slicing appears to do. However, the belief that network neutrality rules need revising for the era of 5G where wireless networks combine spectrum across a broad frequency range catering for very different use cases seems to be gaining ground among regulators and governments around the world. The report also discusses the balance and tension between private 5G networks and slicing, since these are alternative ways of satisfying growing demand for ring fenced enterprise connectivity, delivering security and guaranteed performance.

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