Fifty-five commercial 5G networks will be live by the end of the year, according to new 5G deployments research from Viavi Solutions. The firm said that 13 fixed wireless and mobile 5G network were launched in 2018 and 42 will be added this year. “The State of 5G Deployments” says that this is particularly impressive considering that the first deployments were not expected until 2020.
The firm said that 21 5G deployments will be in Europe, 14 in the Middle East, 10 in Asia, eight in North America and two in Australasia.
“5G represents a paradigm shift in the way that networks are designed, deployed and managed, introducing inherent complexities in the architecture as well as exacting demands on performance and latency,” Sameh Yamany, Viavi’s Chief Technology Officer, said in a press release. “The anticipated improvements that 5G offers will depend on precise operation of multiple elements throughout the network.”
The momentum seems high. A year ago, only 28 service providers said they were in 5G field trials. The acceleration has occurred, Viavi notes, despite the lack of finalized standards from the 3GPP. Those are not expected until next year.
The lack of finalized standards would suggest some fluidity in Viavi’s findings. Simply, it’s difficult to conclusively say how many networks there are if it a precise definition of what that network consists of is not yet set.
It’s also worth noting that the usefulness of mobile 5G will be limited until the arrival of mobile devices. Indeed, the 5G handset market is shaping up to be more dramatic than the accelerating network build outs. In October, Strategy Analytics said that the high initial cost of 5G smartphones – which could retail for more than $1,000 – will require a return to the subsidy pricing model.
The emergence of 5G handsets also could roil the vendor landscape. Last November, Strategy Analytics said the dominance of Samsung and Apple could be challenged.