5G networks are coming and almost every player in the mobile ecosystem wants a bigger slice of the action. With that comes a seemingly perpetual quest to be first. First with a smartphone, first with a base station or small cell, a network, or a chipset. Better yet, a smartphone connecting to a live network.
Some bonafide 5G firsts have already occurred, but many more have yet to come. 5G is everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.
In a new report about the race to 5G and how to measure success, independent analyst and consultant Chetan Sharma wrote: “There is clearly too much hype, much more than the past, a lot of misunderstanding, plenty of fear-mongering, and no clear consensus on the measurement framework.”
Not a week, let alone a day, goes by without some news about 5G. This past week was no different.
Within a span of 24 hours, Ericsson and Nokia both claimed to have 16 commercial 5G deals with publicly named service providers. Speaking at Ericsson’s annual shareholder meeting, CEO Borje Ekholm said Ericsson’s radios have been “5G-ready since 2015 and can be used also for 5G NR (New Radio) with a remote software installation.”
Considering that much equipment can be remotely upgraded for standards-based 5G, Ekholm said Ericsson has “shipped more than 3 million 5G-ready radios to our customers worldwide.”
Nokia followed up the next day to celebrate its 30th commercial deal, including 16 with named operators. A1 Telekom Austria inked a new contract with Nokia to deploy a network after relying on the Finnish equipment maker for its 3G and 4G networks.
“With these agreements, creating new partnerships and continuing existing relationships around the world, we can see the promise of 5G becoming a reality,” Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said in a prepared statement. “Many of the commercial 5G deals we celebrate today include multiple elements from across our end-to-end portfolio as our customers turn to Nokia at each stage of their 5G investment cycle.”
ZTE reported annual results for 2018 this week that included news that it has “collaborated with 30 global operators in 5G,” shipped 10,000 massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) base stations, and 400 NFV commercial and proof-of-concept (PoC) cases worldwide.
Using a 5G commercial network in Seoul, Samsung and KT said they successfully achieved 1 Gb/s speed over the air using 3.5 GHz frequency. KT also announced that its 5G network will be ready for “end-user mobility service” in 85 cities by the end of this month.
And finally, not to be overshadowed by 5G interests in business, a group of U.S. senators introduced the Secure 5G and Beyond Act. If passed, the legislation which would require the president to create an inter-agency strategy to secure 5G and future technology and infrastructure networks, designate the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to coordinate the implementation of that strategy with heads of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Justice Department, Defense Department, and the director of national intelligence. The bill would also prohibit the nationalization of a next-generation network.