The epidemic has thrown a wrench in things, and now the task is to get a return on investment (ROI) in light of the new economic realities.
Over the past few years, 5G has begun rolling out across the globe, marking a watershed moment in the development of information and communication technologies. The timetable has provided us with a wealth of information about the need for 5G and its potential applications. But we need to know the current state of 5G, both before and after the outbreak, and the obstacles it faced.
Many service providers around the world have already deployed 5G networks and begun offering users its benefits, but the sector as a whole has had to deal with the unexpected anxiety and financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 virus, which has delayed coverage expansions, deployments, and rollouts in some markets.
China had 150 million 5G subscribers as of July 2020, while 92 commercial networks were available in 38 countries. Meanwhile, an Ericsson Mobility study predicts that by 2025’s end, there will be 320 million 5G users in the United States and 8 million in South Korea.
How COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Global Rollout of 5G Deployment
Consumers’ time spent on display has increased since the virus began wreaking havoc throughout the world. Over half of respondents to an Ericsson survey said they use streaming devices, and nearly a quarter said the same about social media and messaging.
According to a study by the International Data Corporation (IDC), most Asian and Pacific Rim countries started their 5G journey (NSA for the most part) in 2019/2020 with little difficulty; however, the pandemic has hampered their ability to extract the ROI. It will take more time, according to IDC, for rising AP economies like Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong to follow the global trend toward SA deployments. Since the release of 5G-capable devices is anticipated to coincide with a dramatic increase in data traffic, early use cases appear to focus on eMBB and massive IoT.
According to Yash Jethani, IDC’s Research Manager for Telecom and the Internet of Things, in an exclusive interview with CircuitDigest, “Of all the AP economies, India seems to stand as an exception — the spectrum is allocated in much of ASEAN, ANZ, and North Asia (India the notable exception right now) and services are available in China, South Korea, Australia, and more are coming with every passing day. IDC believes that India’s growth could be stifled since the country has not fully aligned itself with 3GPP, which means that the device ecosystem, PLI schemes, and other incentives for export-oriented growth would not be in sync. Therefore, the issue of standardization also needs to be addressed.
Operators and governments should be progressive on regulations related to ‘inclusion for all’ and ‘connectivity for all,’ with satellite connectivity seen as a complement to terrestrial B2C connectivity alongside carrier aggregation, the active sharing of spectrum, and infrastructure decoupling. The right investments in private 5G cellular (with numerous business models with 3rd party infra, tower companies, etc.) for businesses necessitating higher security demands and/or tailor-made solutions should be made in addition to these B2B use cases in 5G for improving supply chain inefficiencies across the RCEP group, ASEAN, and India.
To conclude, “close and continuous coordination of country regulators, ITU-APT, and other inter-governmental bodies tackling climate change, supply chain, and last-mile logistics with de-risking and diversification, aiding nimble infrastructure deployment methods, and tackling data security and sovereignty issues. According to Jethani, “the most important things to know about how 5G will solve tomorrow’s global problems are prioritization, commitment, and execution.”
Current Scenario of 5G and how it could be a game-changer
There was a lot of talk regarding 5G’s delay and the release of the 17 implementations that would mark the turning point for the technology around the middle of 2020. However, we can see a smooth transition of the high-end 4G module to the 5G module,” Satyajit Sinha, Senior Analyst at IoT Analytics, told Circuit Digest exclusively. Not only have chipset manufacturers, but also module manufacturers, been quite busy recently. There were 443 operators in 133 countries and territories that had committed to 5G by the end of May 2021.
- 159 of those operators in 66 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G mobile services
- 62 operators in 35 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G FWA or home broadband services
In India, 5G devices have been available for purchase and deployment for some time. The rollout is slated for the second half of 2022. But there’s been a lot of progress:
- Jio partnered with NXP to implement a 5G NR O-RAN small cell solution in India
- Bharti Airtel partnered with Tata Group to implement 5G networks solutions for India
It’s not just about speed with 5G. Many uses in the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will become possible. Even more so, as Sinha pointed out, “5G will play an increasingly important role in high-bandwidth and low-latency applications like autonomous cars, drones, high-definition intelligent surveillance cameras, and industrial IoT.”
Where does the growth of 5G deployment stands currently?
According to a report published in December 2020 by Ookla, an internet performance tester, the number of nations with 5G deployments increased by 62.3 percent between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020. It also showed that by the end of Q3 2020, there were 14,643 cities throughout the world with 5G deployments, an increase of 1,671% from Q3 2019. There were a grand total of 17,046 overseas deployments.
The United States had the largest number of 5G-enabled cities, with an estimated 7,583, by the end of the third quarter of 2020, followed by Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The number of 5G deployments in the Netherlands increased by 50,350 percent between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, from two in 2019 to 1,071 in 2020.
Another point of view comes from Grand View Research. They estimate that between 2021 and 2028, the global 5G services market would expand from its 2020 valuation of USD 41.48 billion at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 46.2%.
Millimeter-wave frequency bands in the 28GHz and 39GHz range have been used for early 5G rollout in the US due to their exceptional speed. Rapid adoption in the 600MHz band has since resulted in a sizable 5G footprint across the country.