by Peter Kusnic
February 8, 2021
The rollout of the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, known as 5G, began in 2019 and is expanding rapidly globally, with India-based Airtel recently becoming the first telco to successfully demonstrate live 5G service over a commercial network.
Compared to earlier generations, 5G can transfer much larger amounts of data much more quickly. This carries major implications for the next generation of technology innovations – from drones, industrial IoT systems, and electric vehicles, to the growing range of items comprising your smart home. In a 5G world, for instance, not only will you be able to download a full-length movie on your phone in seconds, but also businesses will be able to operate more efficiently and profitably. Conceivably, virtually every person and thing in the world – including machines, objects, and devices – could be connected.
That may stay science fiction for some time, but even though merely in its infancy and with plenty of challenges to overcome, 5G is already having a real-world impact, driven by rising telco investment in developing the infrastructure.
In particular, this will be a boon for conduit pipe, as 5G infrastructure requires the installation of thousands of miles of new fiber optic cabling. Fiber optic cables are more sensitive to moisture and mechanical stress than coaxial cables, and thus require greater protection through the use of conduit.
Unlike many other sectors, which have seen dramatic declines in commercial investment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telcos around the world actually ramped up 5G expansion efforts in 2020 as the world went into lockdown, and flooded the internet. For example, both AT&T and Verizon significantly scaled up their 5G coverage in the US during the pandemic.
Though China is currently leading the rest of the world in 5G, according to Swedish networking firm Ericsson, 60% of the global population could be covered by 5G by 2026. For now, however, 5G remains mostly confined to large cities, and it will prove a formidable challenge to fully connect the highly diffuse US population under its umbrella.
US demand for conduit pipe and tubing is expected to slow considerably from the 2014-2019 period despite the boost provided by 5G network expansion. Gains will be restrained by a weaker outlook for the building construction industry, the primary driver of demand for conduit. In particular, advances in market value will slow due to forecast declines in commercial building construction – which tends to use higher value conduit – in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
However, there are a number of tailwinds boosting demand for conduit going forward. For instance, a growing preference for conduit over direct burial in the electrical industry to ensure less frequent outages and facilitate repairs will support demand growth going forward.
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About the Author:
Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.
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