North America is moving faster to 5G than other parts of the world. According to a new 5G survey from IHS Markit, 82 percent of mobile operators globally are participating in 5G tests and trials, but only about 12 percent plan to commercially deploy the technology this year. And all 12 percent of those operators are in North America.
In the U.S., AT&T and Verizon have both said that they will launch 5G this year. Verizon is planning to deploy 5G fixed wireless service in four markets by year end. The company will use its pre-standard 5G technology. AT&T is planning to deploy a mobile 5G offering in a dozen markets this year using gear based on the 3GPP 5G standard.
Stéphane Téral, executive research director, mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at IHS Markit, said that he expects South Korea to follow North America and deploy 5G in 2019. However, European operators are taking a slower approach and aren’t planning to deploy 5G until 2021 or later, he added.
About 82 percent of operators queried for the 5G survey said that the low latency of 5G was the biggest technical driver for deployment. The other primary drivers were decreased cost per bit (76 percent) and increased network capacity (71 percent). Téral said that all these elements are intended to improve the network’s performance while at the same time decreasing the cost of the network. “This is logical because it’s the foundation of the 5G definition,” he said.
But operators are concerned about the 5G radio. Téral said that 53 percent of operators said that the radio will require the most effort to develop, followed by transport (24 percent), and management (14 percent).
Although operators talk about use cases such as autonomous cars and internet of things (IoT) as being key to 5G, 53 percent of those surveyed by IHS said that extreme mobile broadband was the biggest use case followed by real-time gaming.