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5G Update: 1 Million Subs in South Korea, 235 Operators are Deploying

There are now 235 operators in 93 countries that have launched (limited availability or non-3GPP networks), demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of 5G-enabling and candidate technologies (up from 201 operators in January 2019).

5G update

According to a new report from Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), Evolution from LTE to 5G: Global Market Status, it has identified 45 operators in 30 countries that have stated that they have activated one or more 5G sites within their live commercial network (excludes those that have only deployed test sites).

The number that have announced the launch of commercial services remains much lower however, as operators have had to await the availability of 5G devices. These have now started to appear, removing the market blockage.

17 operators have now announced limited 3GPP-compatible 5G service launches (either mobile or FWA-Fixed Wireless Access). These include: AT&T (USA), EE (UK), Elisa (Finland and Estonia), Etisalat (UAE), KT (Republic of Korea), LG Uplus (Republic of Korea), Ooredoo (Qatar), Optus (Australia), SK Telecom (Republic of Korea), Sprint (USA), Sunrise (Switzerland), Swisscom (Switzerland), Telstra (Australia), Verizon (USA), Vodacom (Lesotho), and Vodafone (Qatar). In addition, Fastweb and TIM (Italy) announced the launch of their joint Matera and Bari ‘5G city’ (for project partners only) and C-Spire (USA) has launched a non-3GPP compliant 5G network.

In South Korea, more than one million people have subscribed to a 5G mobile service, meaning demand for the high-speed technology has easily outpaced the country’s adoption of 4G. The government said it took 69 days for the landmark to be reached. This is much faster than the 80 days it took the last-generation, 4G LTE, service to hit the same figure, in 2011, reported BBC. About 85 South Korean cities will have 5G connectivity by the end of the year, and its Ministry of Science and ICT has said that local networks will begin installing kit at airports, train stations and large shopping centres from next week to boost coverage.

In Malaysia, Telcos including Celcom Axiata, U Mobile, Maxis, Digi, Telekom Malaysia (Unifi Mobile), TIME dotCom and edotco have shown interest towards 5G.

In terms of 5G devices, GSA had identified (as of May 2019):

  • 9 announced form factors (phones, hotspots, indoor CPE, outdoor CPE, laptops, modules, snap-on dongles/adapters, IoT routers, and USB terminals).
  • 33 vendors that have announced available or forthcoming 5G
    devices.

    • 64 announced devices, up from 50 in May and 33 in March (excluding regional variants, re-badged devices, phones that can be upgraded using a separate adapter, and prototypes not expected to be commercialised)
    • 17 phones (plus regional variants)
    • 6 hotspots (plus regional variants)
    • 19 CPE devices (indoor and outdoor, including two Verizon-spec compliant devices)
    • 16 modules
  • 2 snap-on dongles/adapters
  • 2 IoT routers
  • 1 laptop
  • 1 USB terminal.
  • 5G chipsets from five vendors – Huawei, Intel, Mediatek, Qualcomm and Samsung – although Intel has announced its withdrawal from the 5G modem market.

Some of the 5G Smartphones that are available today (or soon to be available) include:

  • Huawei Mate 20x 5G
  • Lenovo Z6 Pro (China 5G variant)
  • LG V50 ThinQ
  • Nubia Mini 5G
  • OnePlus 7Pro 5G
  • Oppo Find X 5G
  • Oppo Reno 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (North America)
  • Sony Xperia 5G (exact name to be confirmed)
  • TCL Alcatel 7 5G
  • Vivo Apex 2019
  • Vivo NEX S 5G
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
  • ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G

As for 4G LTE, there are now around 4 billion subscriptions connecting around 47% of mobile users worldwide and it is the fastest developing mobile system technology ever.

According to the GSA report, there are:

  • 861 operators actively investing in 4G LTE, including those evaluating/ testing and trialling LTE and those paying for suitable spectrum licences (excludes those using technology neutral licences exclusively for 2G or 3G services).
  • 750 operators running LTE networks providing mobile and/or FWA services in 223 countries worldwide.
  • 188 commercial VoLTE networks in 89 countries and a total of 256
    operators investing in VoLTE in 116 countries.
  • 302 launched or launched (limited availability) LTE-Advanced networks in 134 countries. Overall, 333 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced technology in 141 countries.
  • Ten launched networks that support user equipment (UE) at Cat-18 DL speeds within limited geographic areas.
  • 760–770 anticipated commercially launched LTE networks by end-2019 (GSA forecast).
  • 226 operators with TDD licences and at least 160 operators with launched LTE-TDD networks.
  • 148 operators investing in NB-IoT in 71 countries; of these, 98 NB-IoT networks are deployed/launched in 53 countries. Sixty-two operators are investing in LTE-M/Cat-M1 in 36 countries; of these, 37 LTE-M/CatM1 networks are deployed/commercially launched in 25 countries.
  • 235 operators in 93 countries have launched with limited availability, deployed, demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of mobile 5G or FWA 5G.
  • 45 operators in 30 countries have announced the deployment of 5G within their live network.
  • 17 operators have announced limited 3GPP 5G service launches.
[Download PDF]– GSA Evolution from LTE to 5G: Global Market Status
[Download PDF]– GSA 5G Devices May Update

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy