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  • Writer's pictureÁlvaro Ruiz

Who are the 5G developers working on the future of mobile connectivity

The global rollout of 5G is gaining momentum, opening up new possibilities for developers to harness its advanced features, such as network slicing capabilities. According to data from the GSMA, the worldwide adoption of 5G connections (excluding licensed cellular IoT) has surged from 8% in 2021 to 18% in 2023, with projections to reach 56% by 2030. Concurrently, the mobile industry is already exploring the realms of 6G to further enhance the foundations laid by 5G.

But how many developers are actually working on these technologies today? Where are they located? What are they building? Who do they work for? Join us in this blog post to delve into the current landscape of developers working on 5G and 6G technologies. We will answer these questions using data from three waves of our global developer surveys, which have reached over 60,000 developers worldwide.

Developer’s engagement with 5G/6G technologies has doubled over the last two years

As the consumer adoption and deployment of 5G continues to rise, so does the share of developers working on 5G/6G projects. In Q3 2021, a mere 5% of developers globally were working on these technologies. Fast forward to Q3 2023, and this percentage has more than doubled, reaching 11%.

Furthermore, the percentage of developers learning about 5G/6G technologies has also witnessed a notable increase, from 10% to 18% over the past two years. This points towards a broader and heightened interest in these technologies, with  29% of developers currently working on or learning about 5G/6G, compared to the 15% recorded two years ago.

Additionally, the share of developers expressing at least some interest in 5G/6G has grown. In Q3 2021, 57% of developers showed no interest in these technologies, but by Q3 2023 this had decreased to only 38%. However, it’s worth noting that this remains considerably higher when compared to other popular emerging technologies we track, such as quantum computing (31%), robotics (29%), and generative AI (20%).

a data graph showing Evolution of developer engagement with 5G/6G technologies over the last two years

Where are 5G developers located, and what are they building?

Now, let’s delve into the profile of the 11% of developers currently working on 5G/6G, and explore their geographic locations and the nature of their projects.

Looking at the regional distribution of these developers, we can see that three regions, namely North America (32%), Western Europe (17%), and East Asia (14%), collectively host the majority (63%) of the 5G/6G developer community.

Upon comparing the regional distribution of 5G/6G developers to the overall developer population, two regions show a substantially higher concentration of these developers: North America (32% vs 19%) and East Asia (14% vs 9%), standing out as hotspots of 5G/6G development. Conversely, the Greater China area, South Asia, and Eastern Europe are marked with a comparatively lower density of developers working on 5G/6G.

A noteworthy observation is the remarkable growth of 5G/6G developers in the Middle East & Africa. Hosting only 4% of these developers two years ago, it surged to 14% in Q3 2023, aligning with their share of the overall developer population (14%), which has remained stable in this period.

a data graph showing Regional distribution of developers working on 5G/6G technologies

Examining the types of projects that those working on 5G/6G are involved in reveals a compelling trend. They exhibit higher participation than average across all types, except for web apps / SaaS and, especially, backend services.

Conversely, in development areas such as AR, VR, industrial IoT, consumer electronics, and embedded software, we observe that the involvement of these developers is more than twice the average across all developers. Not surprisingly, these sectors stand to gain significantly from the advantages offered by advanced connectivity.

The broader engagement of 5G/6G developers in almost all sectors may be attributed, at least partially, to their higher likelihood of holding managerial positions. Notably, developers working on 5G/6G are approximately twice as likely to hold roles such as CEO, CTO, CIO, or IT manager than other developers. This could signal that the integration of 5G/6G remains a strategic priority yet to be fully realised within organisations.

Our data also enables us to further break down 5G/6G developers based on variables such as experience or professional status, among others, but that analysis goes beyond the purposes of this blog post. If you are interested in gaining more insights into 5G/G6 developers, our Custom Data Cuts can cover your needs.

a data graph showing  Involvement of 5G/6G developers in different types of projects

The size and industries of 5G/6G developer workplaces

Given that the vast majority (83%) of 5G/6G developers are professionals, let’s get further details into their workplace environments.

Looking at the size of the organisations these developers work for, it becomes apparent that they are more inclined to work in larger companies. While over half (53%) of all developers work for organisations of up to 100 employees, only 39% of developers working on 5G/6G find employment within these smaller-scale organisations.

This could be attributed to factors such as resource availability and scale. Larger companies are likely better positioned to invest in the research and development of emerging technologies like 5G and 6G. Additionally, the participation of larger organisations in standardisation bodies or industry forums, coupled with economies of scale, allows them to reduce the cost per unit for the research, development, and deployment of these advanced technologies. Furthermore, the larger customer bases of these companies enable them to leverage the scale of their operations effectively.

a data graph showing Size of the organisation where 5G/6G developers work at

Taking a closer look at the industry vertical in which these developers’ companies operate reveals a notable trend – they are more inclined to engage in multiple industries compared to the overall developer population, underscoring the versatility and cross-industry applications of 5G/6G technologies.

With 35% of 5G/6G developers working for the software and services industry, this industry boasts the highest participation rate of these developers, despite the share of 5G/6G developers involved in this sector being substantially lower compared to the overall developer population (43%).

Conversely, industries such as data analytics and, unsurprisingly, telecommunications and networks claim the second (22%) and third (17%) largest share of 5G/6G developers, respectively,  both showing higher participation compared to the average of all developers involved in these industries.

a data graph showing Top 5 industries 5G/6G developers work at

Are you keen on gaining deeper insights into the realm of developers working on 5G/6G? Perhaps you're intrigued by those who are in the process of learning about or merely expressing interest in these cutting-edge technologies? Reach out, and let's delve into this exploration together.

About the author

Álvaro is a market research analyst with a background in strategy and operations consulting. He holds a Master’s in Business Management and believes in the power of data-driven decision-making. Álvaro is passionate about helping businesses tackle complex strategic business challenges and make strategic decisions backed by thorough research and analysis.


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