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Operator-billed revenue from 5G Internet of Things (IoT) connections will hit $8 billion by 2024, from $525 million in 2020, according to a new report from analyst firm Juniper Research.

If correct, the upbeat assessment represents growth of over 1,400 percent over the next five years – albeit from a standing start in 2019.

The report, 5G Networks in IoT: Sector Analysis & Impact Assessment 2020-2025, says that key drivers of 5G IoT connections will be automotive and smart cities applications, with revenue from them being highly sought after by operators.

Valued-added services will be crucial to these two sectors, which will account for 70 percent of all 5G IoT connections by 2025, according to the research. However, only five percent of 5G connections overall will be attributable to the IoT – but these will be essential to securing a return on operators’ 5G investments.

That’s despite the nascent state of the industry and the challenges facing some markets, such as the UK, as potential collateral damage from the US-China trade war.

At present, five separate 5G networks are live in the UK (EE, Vodafone, O2, BT Mobile, and Sky Mobile), but controversy over the deployment of Huawei hardware in some of them (principally Huawei partner BT’s) may yet hamper the UK’s progress. In the US, numerous cities are either 5G ready or will come online this year.

There are other obstacles to progress. A present, only a handful of devices are 5G capable, and security and health concerns remain in some quarters – with the latter principally related to the number of masts that will need to be placed in populous areas.

The research urges operators to develop comprehensive value-added services to enable IoT service users to manage their 5G connections. It forecasts that tools such as network slicing and multi-access edge computing solutions will be essential to attract the highest-spending IoT service users to 5G networks.

The high initial pricing of 5G connectivity in the IoT sector will dissuade all but high-value IoT users, adds the report.

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