South Korea leads 5G deployment

South Korea leads 5G deployment

27 February 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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South Korea is leading the global race to deploy 5G, with 85 of more than 100 cities in the country now connected.

The figures, published by VIAVI, put South Korea ahead of China, the US and UK, which counted 57, 50 and 31 connected cities, respectively.

With a population of more than 51 million people, South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy and plans to leverage 5G as a “growth engine”, according to President Moon Jae-in.

Commercial services started in April 2019 and soon after the government pledged investments of $26 billion to establish a “fully-fledged 5G environment” by 2022. Further, Jae-in expects to create 600,000 jobs and a 5G-based export industry wort $73 billion by 2026.

According to VIAVI’s chief technology officer, Sameh Yamany, such a focus on the quality of the network is likely to keep the Asian nation in the lead for some time.

“Very quickly, the overarching driver will change from simply having 5G network availability to having the best 5G networks,” said Yamany.

“Even as operators continue their 5G build-out, they will simultaneously have to shift gears from network validation and verification through to advanced analytics and automated network troubleshooting. The race for the best 5G network has only just begun,” Yamany continued.

Globally, commercial 5G networks have been deployed in 378 cities across 34 countries, as of January 2020. Broken down by region, EMEA leads the way with 168 cities where 5G networks have been deployed, while Asia follows with 156 cities and the Americas count 54 cities.

The deployments concentrate on densely populated metro areas, with only a handful of cities seeing multiply communications service providers (CSPs), including Los Angeles and New York.