5G Positioning technology has the potential to bring major benefits to location deployments across many consumer and enterprise positioning use cases. According to new research by global technology intelligence ABI Research, the ability to leverage 5G infrastructure will lead to over 3.6 billion 5G positioning-enabled device shipments by 2030. However, 5G positioning will not reach its true potential until the arrival of 5G Advanced leading to accelerated adoption from 2026 onwards.
“While 5G positioning is largely specified in early releases of 5G 3GPP standards, the technology will become commercially appealing and competitive only with 5G Advanced, which will enable real-time positioning over 5G to be more accurate and power efficient, with competitive end-terminal pricing points,” explains Mark Qi, Location Technologies Research Analyst at ABI Research. “Reduced Capability (RedCap) will play a fundamental role in enabling new consumer use-cases such as people, pet, and consumer asset tracking through simple, cost-effective, and power-efficient devices. Further potential 5G Advanced enhancements include reductions in latency and power consumption, enhancements via machine learning and sensor fusion, efficiency improvements, and cooperative localization using sidelink relays.”
For the enterprise, these higher accuracy, energy constrained, and cost-effective devices are required for 5G positioning to support many of the varied use cases desired across industrial, logistics, healthcare, smart city, and other environments. Support for this will come as the industry grows and hardware becomes increasingly commercialized, though this will likely take several years. “Enterprises are still looking for a standout solution when it comes to enabling location in a scalable and cost-effective manner. While there are very few commercially available 5G positioning options, are early 5G positioning deployments from the likes of Huawei, ZTE, and Nokia leverage systems based on Release 16. These solutions, however, lack the accuracy, latency, cost-effectiveness, and power efficiency in line with most end-user requirements, and only by resolving these issues will enterprises be compelled to deploy 5G at a large scale. Qi adds, “We can expect an earlier and more incremental deployment of 5G positioning in enterprise compared to the consumer market where private 5G deployments are gaining momentum and enterprises are increasingly looking towards digitizing systems by leveraging positioning.”
However, the availability of equipment based on Release 17 and Release 18 will ultimately address all the enterprise pain points and will drive increased interest and support from telecom and chipset vendors such as Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Huawei. ABI Research expects 5G Advanced products, the majority of which will support 5G positioning, to reach the market beginning in 2025/2026, with widescale adoption arriving by 2027 at the earliest. “The success of 5G positioning or otherwise will much depend on timely development of the 3GPP specifications, ecosystem formation, and commercialization of 5G positioning solutions from infrastructure suppliers, device OEMs, and mobile network operators alike,” cautions Qi.