5G deployment ‘due to triple this year’ to total 55 active networks

18 February 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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There will be 55 commercial 5G networks in operation by the end of this year, according to new research.

Viavi, a company that makes test equipment, says that 13 commercial 5G networks started up in 2018, including fixed and mobile services. But the rate of deployment will “more than triple this year”, says the company, “with 42 new network launches anticipated in 2019”.

The company’s survey (see graphic) shows that the US will be most active, with six carriers expected to start 5G services. Finland, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Switzerland and the UK will each see three.

CTO Sameh Yamany said: “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.”

The company said that the pace of commercial deployments is a clear indication of the competition to offer 5G services. “At this time last year, only 28 service providers had reported that they were in field trials with 5G architecture. This rapid escalation of deployment plans comes in spite of the fact that 3GPP standards for 5G are not expected to be final until 2020.”

Viavi warned: “Service providers need to be careful about finalizing architectures, and detailed technical information about deployment plans is still limited at this point.”

Yamany said: “The anticipated improvements that 5G offers will depend on precise operation of multiple elements throughout the network.”

Viavi runs its annual State of 5G Deployments report alongside its Gigabit Monitor, following the availability of fixed internet services offering speeds of more than 1Gbps.