Analyst firm Strategy Analytics says that different operator 5G deployment schedules around the globe will likely cause market fragmentation. And that, in turn, may lead to different variants of 5G being deployed in devices and networks.
The end result, according to Strategy Analytics analyst Ken Hyers, is that pre-commercial 5G devices will likely experience some of the same issues faced by early 3G devices — lack of backward compatibility and poor battery life.
Strategy Analytics released two 5G reports today — one focused on the network and one devoted to the 5G handset landscape. In the network report, the analyst firm said that early 5G initiatives by Asia Pacific operators such as SK Telecom and KT have been aggressively working on 5G, followed by China Mobile, Singtel, and Telstra. Likewise, in the U.S., all the large operators like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile US, and Sprint have 5G roadmaps in place. But in Europe, 4G is still being deployed, and operators there are mainly eying 5G as an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.
In addition, the analyst firm predicts that 690 million mobile connections, 7 percent of the total, will be on 5G networks by 2025.
Because of these different timetables and 5G strategies, Strategy Analytics anticipates some operators will be deploying non-standardized gear and releasing pre-commercial devices. “I expect it will be similar to when W-CDMA was deployed and NTT DoCoMo had their flavor of W-CDMA and the European operators had their flavor,” Hyers said.
Strategy Analytics isn’t the only one predicting 5G fragmentation. AT&T last week called out others in the industry for what it called “interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications,” saying that it will distract from the ultimate goal of deploying 5G.
To that end, the company said it was hoping to form a partnership with others like China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, KDDI, LG, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra, and Vodafone. The goal of the group is to enable faster 5G deployments once the 3GPP finishes the first release of its official specifications, which will form the basis of global standards.