Research from network test, monitoring and assurance technology provider Viavi Solutions has revealed a surge in the roll-out of 5G networks across the globe.
According to its fourth annual The state of 5G deployments report, as the battle for 5G supremacy heats up, a number of operators are blanketing the largest global population centres, with as many as five communications service providers (CSPs) deploying 5G in cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
As of January 2020, commercial 5G networks have been deployed in 378 cities across 34 countries.
The country boasting the most cities with 5G availability is South Korea with 85, followed by China with 57, the US with 50, and the UK with 31 cities. In terms of regional coverage, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) leads the way with 168 cities deploying 5G networks, Asia is second with 156 cities, then the Americas with 54 cities covered by 5G. Deployments include mobile and fixed wireless 5G networks.
Yet despite the accelerated pace of deployment, the research also found that for 5G operators, there was a heady mix of fear as well as optimism. Sameh Yamany, chief technology officer at Viavi, said: “The optimism is related to a plethora of new commercial applications that could change operator economics for the better, even though they may not feel the commercial impact for some time. The immediate fear is that they will get left behind in the short-term marketing battle by rival operators if they are not fast enough in their landgrab.”
The report concluded by forecasting that, going forward, the overarching driver for operators is likely to change from simply having 5G network availability to having the best 5G networks. Yamany added: “Even as operators continue their 5G build-out, they will simultaneously have to shift gears from network validation and verification through to advanced analytics and automated network troubleshooting. The race for the best 5G network has only just begun.”
The best network race now appears to be the first to roll out standalone 5G networks in the regions. Japanese mobile operator KDDI has just turned to Nokia and Ericsson to enable hardware and software solutions to support its standalone 5G offering.
Working with those firms, KDDI said it has achieved a 5G standalone cloud-native CI/CD software pipeline breakthrough, enabling fast and efficient delivery of new software and functionalities while maintaining network quality.
This move came soon after South Korean telco SK Telecom revealed that it had successfully accomplished the world’s first standalone 5G data session on its multi-supplier commercial 5G network.