5G Supply Chain Challenges to Continue During 2022: ABI Research

5GGlobal challenges in the 5G supply chain will continue during 2022, according to a new white paper published by research firm ABI Research.

The white paper, dubbed “70 Technology Trends That Will—and Will Not—Shape 2022”, noted that the U.S. government’s Entity List has created a “balkanized market” where Chinese vendors have remained confined to the Chinese market for growth, and western vendors have now been denied access to the lucrative and massive Chinese 5G market. “ABI Research expects these restrictions to remain in place in 2022 without further escalation from either side. Moreover, the semiconductor shortage will continue, affecting Chinese vendors the most. Huawei and ZTE are expected to face additional shortages for their flagship products, namely smartphones and Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (mMIMO) antennas, causing them to slow down sales in markets outside China to satisfy large orders by China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom,” the analyst firm said.

ABI Research also noted that Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese vendors have invested significant capital and effort in as-yet-unstandardized “6G” research and development already, and will continue to do so in 2022, meaning that 6G Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) may be dominated by China. “This may create complications, market distortions, or even standards fragmentation if Chinese vendors are banned from major international markets in the future,” the white paper says.

ABI Research’s white paper also anticipates that China will become the leading nation within the 5G enterprise market this year. “China is the world’s largest 5G consumer market, with more than 400 million 5G end-device connections. Currently, the country is ready to accelerate enterprise 5G adoption, as industrial adoption presents greater opportunity than consumer services. Currently, 5G applications have been deployed across 20 different industries, primarily in manufacturing, energy, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture. In addition, more mature applications are also emerging in the port and mining sectors,” the firm said.

The research firm also noted that a key success factor in this field is China’s spectrum strategy. “The authority has reserved the 6 GHz band for 5G deployment entirely, unlike the United States, which saw the full allocation to Wi-Fi and other technologies. Considering China’s rapid 5G development, sufficient spectrum resources are crucial. The 6 GHz band would play an important role in providing wide-area coverage like the 3.5 GHz band, providing opportunities for future enterprise applications.”

Chinese operators have already installed more than 1.3 million 5G base stations across the country, state news agency Xinhua recently reported, citing data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Xie Cun, director of the information and communication development department at the ministry, recently said that 5G base stations in China accounted for more than 70% of the global total, and that 5G network coverage has been achieved in urban areas of all prefecture-level cities. The official also said that 5G coverage reached 97% of counties and 40% of rural towns across the country.

Chinese operators recorded a net gain of 35.16 million 5G subscribers in November, according to the carriers’ latest available figures.

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