5G has reached its ‘tipping point’

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VIAVA Solutions has revealed that 5G networks are now available in 47 out of the world’s 70 largest economies by GDP, according to its annual ‘The State of 5G’ report.

The report shows that there are currently 2,497 cities globally with commercial 5G networks, across 92 countries.

23 countries have pre-commercial 5G trials underway, while 32 countries have announced their 5G intentions. As for the remaining 48 countries, many are smaller island nations that have not publicly announced plans for 5G.

18 countries – including two of the largest developing economies, India and Mexico – announced their first 5G deployments in 2022. Emerging economies included Angola, Ethiopia, and Guatemala.

The report also revealed several other major trends relating to 5G deployments.

One of the key findings of the report was that the US has displaced China to top the 5G cities leaderboard for the first time, with the number of cities with 5G networks growing significantly to 503 (compared to 297 in May 2022.)

However, while the number of 5G cities in China has remained static at 356 since June 2021, China remains ahead in other key metrics such as data speeds, 5G subscribers, and base stations deployed.

The report also highlighted that the manufacturing sector has emerged as the clear leader for private 5G networks globally, with 44 percent of publicly announced deployments, followed by logistics, education, transport, sports, utilities, and mining.

Organisations with the biggest connectivity pain points and greatest opportunities for smart applications are noted in the report as naturally emerging as the leading adopters of private 5G networks.

In addition, the report found that 5G Standalone (SA) networks – networks that have been built using a new 5G core and which operate independently of existing 4G infrastructure – are rapidly gaining momentum around the world.

As of January 2023, there were 45 5G SA networks in place across 23 countries. A year prior, there were just 24 networks globally.

5G SA networks offer a wider array of use cases and monetisation models compared to non-standalone networks, which are relatively limited in their applications beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).

Finally, the report revealed that the spectrum for 5G in the millimetre wave (mmWave) band, generally considered to be 24 GHz and above, has garnered significant interest from various countries.

Countries that have made mmWave spectrum available span every continent and represent an extremely diverse mix of population sizes, economies, and levels of technological advancement.

Sameh Yamany, CTO at VIAVI Solutions, commented:

“2022 was 5G’s graduation year. It evolved from being a developed market phenomenon into a global phenomenon.

On a technical level too – with a near doubling of Standalone 5G networks – the capabilities of 5G have expanded significantly, and we can look forward to more sophisticated network and business capabilities from operators.

In the coming year, a major focus will be network quality and the further development of Open RAN technologies – and we’ll be playing our part in ensuring those are as successful as possible.”

The report highlights the importance of the expansion of 5G networks and the potential for 5G technology to transform various industries. 

It is clear that 5G is becoming more accessible globally, and businesses and organisations across a range of sectors are embracing the technology to enhance connectivity and create new opportunities for innovation.

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