In markets like Japan, South Korea and the US, falling behind technologically can affect market positioning. Wwidespread fibre availability, large scale small cell deployments, high LTE penetration and supportive regulators make, in combination, a strong case for an early migration. This is even truer if legacy 2G networks can be shut down. Operators advanced in 4G (LTE) are likely to deploy 5G sooner.
The first commercial, standardized 5G services may launch by late 2018. Many more operators will launch in the following couple of years. This report compiles 18 case studies from leading operators around the world, examining their network milestones and developments en route to 5G.
5G also supports the focus that many operators have in looking for new, adjacent revenue streams, including fixed-mobile integration, digital content and IoT. Strong competition and short device upgrade cycles will also mean that, in South Korea and Japan, all three major operators are expected to deploy early, resulting in high 5G adoption, and we forecast 58% and 36% of mobile subscriptions respectively will be 5G capable in 2022.
US enjoy strong mobile traffic growth, and the four largest network providers have announced they want to launch commercial services before the end of 2019. AT&T has 32m cellular connected devices, and exhibits leadership in business connectivity. Verizon has made acquisitions of StraightPath and XO, providing spectrum and fibre respectively for 5G. Sprint has a spectrum advantage and experience in beam-forming and massive MIMO. T-Mobile has invested in spectrum but awaits standardization.
The European environment is less favourable, with greater dependence on microwave backhaul, lower LTE penetration (and coverage), and restrictions including net-neutrality, site acquisition processes, and a lack of 28MHz spectrum. Economic stagnation and a lower propensity to invest due to pricing pressures and a the memory of high 3G license fees are tempering enthusiasm. Leading operators are still expected to deploy from 2020, but development is perhaps likely to be slightly later and slower, while network sharing and other cross operator partnerships may also be expected.
China and UAE will be, for the first time, among the early next generation markets, driven by China Mobile which wants to maintain its lead from LTE versus of its competitors, and Etisalat (in Dubai). Fiber is widely available in China and the public sector supports technology development. 5G in Africa & the Middle East is likely to be more gradual.
The report "Positioning 5G: Telco Case Studies" delves into 5G technology and applications as applicable to 18 major telecoms service providers around the world. It examines their strategic motivations and network milestones, with specific focus on South Korea, Japan, the US, China and Europe. 5G will, for the first time, go beyond increased bandwidth and capacity, as was the focus of previous wireless generations, adding low latency, high density and high reliability.
Specifically, the report provides the following:
- Operator Case Studies: This section begins with an overview and compiles profiles of eighteen of the world’s mobile operators that are more advanced in mobile data. They include four operators in the US, nine in Asia Pacific, four in Europe, and one in the Middle East. The profiles provide a broad overview of network milestones encompassing both developments in 4G and announced plans for 5G, and examine the motivations and opportunities for different operators en route to 5G.
- Key findings and recommendations: We conclude the report with a summary of the opportunities, challenges and success factors in deploying 5G, as well as recommendations, for network operators and vendors.
- 5G goes beyond previous wireless generations, with additional capabilities beyond increased bandwidths and capacities, resulting in new opportunities but also additional challenges in complexity.
- 5G is gaining momentum, given that standardization timelines have been brought forward. As a result, in Japan, South Korea and USA all the major operators are planning to launch IMT 2020 based services during 2019. Important events such as Olympics are an additional driver in a number of countries.
- The 28GHz frequency band is enjoying the most initial focus, and will support early services in South Korea and US, although it is not available in all regions. The 3.5GHz frequency band has, by some way, the broadest support across key regions including US, where it is to become available as shared spectrum. Many other high frequency bands are also being considered, notably 2.5GHz, 4GHz and 39GHz; these will be complemented by low frequency bands also, including 600MHz, 700MHz and 1.3GHz.
- The 5G business case for operators depends very much on small cell deployment and the associated availability of high capacity backhaul.
- This report provides a global view of the network milestones and envisaged opportunities in deploying 5G and growth trends for eighteen of the world’s most advanced providers of mobile telephony.
- This analysis is useful for telecom executives to evaluate their position vis-à-vis the major growth opportunities in 5G and make informed decisions about strategic investments, value proposition and growth strategies to rapidly grow their 5G networks.
- The report provides valuable insights about variety of approaches operators are taking with the evolution of the 5G family of technologies.
- The report allows comparison of network readiness and 5G roll out progression among operators in different countries.
Section 1: Operator Case Studies
Overview of Operator Case Studies
Section 2: Key Findings and Recommendations
Acronyms and definitions
About the authors