Test and monitoring provider Viavi Solutions says that as of last month there were commercial 5G deployments worldwide in 378 cities in 34 countries. The top country is South Korea, with networks in 85 cities. China follows with networks in 57 cities, the U.S. with 50 and the UK with 31. EMEA, with 168 deployed networks, leads in regional coverage. Asia is close behind with 156 cities. The Americas is next with 54 cities.
The firm’s The State of 5G Deployments worldwide report is in its fourth year. “For 5G operators there is a heady mixture of optimism and fear,” said Sameh Yamany, Viavi’s Chief Technology Officer. “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 rivals operators if they’re not fast enough in their landgrab.”
The story goes beyond the number of cities and regions with coverage. It extends to the number of operators active. For instance, Viavi found that as many as five service providers may simultaneously offer 5G services in cities such as Los Angeles and New York City.
“The race for the best 5G network has only just begun,” Sameh said in the release.
The pace of deployment has accelerated. In February 2019, Viavi said that the number of global 5G deployments would reach 55 by the end of the year. That total consisted of 13 fixed wireless and mobile networks launched in 2018 and 42 that were thought to be on tap for 2019.
Next year’s report is likely to show major gains, as carriers continue to open more markets. Last week, AT&T said that it is launching 5G networks in 13 markets. And Verizon made January launch announcements for Kansas City, MO, Little Rock AR and Cincinnati, OH, which followed December 2019 launches by the carrier in Grand Rapids, MI; Miami; Salt Lake City; Spokane, WA and Charlotte and Greensboro N.C.