The promise of 5G deployment has transitioned from the drawing board to reality as the 5th generation of wireless technology, planned and developed for nearly a decade now, begins limited service. The race is on to secure global 5G leadership due to the number of competitive advantages that are set to follow in tow. With 5G set to contribute over $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years, it will become the global pacesetter for the standard of connected technology. 


Major telecommunication companies in 18 countries are scheduled to roll out 5G networks by the end of 2019; and by 2020, it is expected that over one-fifth of the world’s countries will have launched 5G services. Reported within the Global 5G Landscape Report, intelligence recognizes the following three countries as the current leaders within the 5G revolution: The United States, South Korea and China. 


China’s three state-run telecom operations (China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom) launched 5G services on Friday the 1st of November 2019. Although South Korea and the United States launched 5G services earlier this year, China has a substantially larger commercial network, making the country more influential over the technology’s global evolution. 


Due to China’s competitive size and being the largest mobile market in the world, the country is expected to become the biggest 5G market in terms of connections by 2025. Predictions also suggest that China will have approximately 110 million 5G users, which equates to 7% of the country’s population whereas South Korea who launched in April will only have 3% of the country’s internet users make the switch over to 5G. 


China’s three telecom providers are also the first to offer highly competitive pricing with 5G plans that start at ¥128 ($18) for 30 GB of data per month. 


South Korea


South Korea was the second country in the world to deploy a 5G network, however, whilst they appear to be ahead, the country has been experiencing some latency issues. South Korea deployed their 5G services in an efficient manner due to the government taking a hands-on approach in regulating the telecoms industry. As a result, within the first two months of having launched 5G, South Korea’s 5G subscriber count had already exceeded the growth rate that 4G experienced.


Whilst 5G is delivering with its standards of fast speeds, the speeds experienced when ‘up switching’ (switching over from LTE to 5G) are falling short. These issues have the potential to be quite detrimental to the success of 5G in South Korea as the majority of their current 5G customers spend most of their time on LTE, even when in range of 5G connection as LTE is proven to optimise the devices battery life and call performance. 


United States 

Launching the world’s first commercial 5G services in 2018, the US are replicating the private-sector-led strategy that it followed to achieve its 4G dominance, aiming to achieve the same results with their 5G deployment. The US have decided to take this route as it provides operators with autonomy over their own deployment strategies and methods which will heighten competition and drive investment. 


However, the country is currently facing issues regarding who is granted access to parts of the 5G spectrum. The issue that America is confronting is that they are already facing a commercial disadvantage due to the spectrum, which is being used world wide, being reserved exclusively for US government and military use. As demonstrated in the diagram below, large corporations including Apple, Facebook and Google are fighting to user lower frequencies (which is what China and the majority of the world is implementing ) due to the benefit of the frequency being able to travel further. However, in the US, most of this area within the spectrum has already been reserved for the government and military use, leaving the rest of the country with higher frequencies (which is ideal if carrying more data). 


Source – Financial Times



Singapore recently announced their decision to involve all four major telcos (Singtel, StarHub, M1 and TPG Telecom), issuing two full-fledged 5G networks and two smaller ones with limited coverage. Due to the limited 5G airwaves for islandwide reach, the IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) can only issue two nationwide networks with the remaining two smaller 5G networks supporting the rollout using an alternative type of airwaves, known as millimetre airwaves. 


Although Singapore is slower than the major three 5G leading countries (South Korea, China and the United States), the country is expected to be the first country in South-East Asia to launch 5G services. In fact, half of the island will receive 5G coverage by the end of 2022, allowing for a hike in competitive prices, service innovation and an overall greater range of choice. The growing 5G network is the premise for Singapore’s digitally driven economy and the ecosystem to foster first-in-class tech innovation. Riding the 5G wave means partnering with the right experts to help you reach the top. VIAVI is a household name for 5G solutions with end-to-end options on 5G validation, verification and visibility. Talk to the 5G and fiber experts today and see how you can join the next digital transformation.


About The Author

Fiber Pro at VIAVI Solutions, the world leading provider of Network and Service Enablement.

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