As mobile operators race to deliver next-generation services for subscribers and IoT connectivity, the pace of 5G field trials and deployments has rapidly accelerated during the past six months.
According to new new industry data on the State of 5G Trials around the globe released by VIAVI Solutions, a total of 72 network operators are already testing 5G – nearly three times the number conducting trials at this time last year – with 28 of those reporting they are in field trials. An additional 28 operators have announced plans for 5G trials. Even more significantly, two service providers in the Middle East have launched pre-commercial 5G services with limited availability – Etisalat and Ooredoo.
Reports from ongoing 5G trials indicate that a handful of operators are reaching blazing fast data speeds. In fact, four operators have reported reaching a speed of 70 Gbps — Etisalat, Proximus, Telenor and Zain. The average speed, however, is much lower, with six operators claiming speeds in excess of 35 Gbps, and another six reporting a speed of 10 Gbps.
Despite the fact that the 3GPP 5G new radio specification has only recently been completed, 14 network equipment manufacturers have announced involvement in 5G trials. To date, these trials have been conducted across a broad range of bandwidths, ranging from sub-3 GHz to 86 GHz. Of the operators disclosing their test spectrum, the most commonly trialed wavelength is 28 GHz, with 21 operators using it, followed by 15 GHz.
“Expectations for 5G are sky-high, offering mobile operators new opportunities for revenue,” said Stéphane Téral, Executive Director of Research and Analysis, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics, IHS Markit. “Yet the path to full 5G adoption is complicated and still evolving. Operators and infrastructure vendors across the globe are moving at varying speeds when it comes to testing and deployment — they need to act now to address technology challenges.”
“Network service providers have been grappling with the evolution to 5G for some time, including how to address technology challenges such as fixed mobile convergence, hybrid cloud, network slicing and increasing virtualization,” said Sameh Yamany, Chief Technology Officer, VIAVI Solutions. “Virtual test, automation, self-optimization and analytics will be essential to dealing with the growing complexity and scale of 5G networks, while managing demand for high data rates, very low latency applications and large-scale IoT services.”
VIAVI will showcase real-world solutions that are available today, lighting the path to the 5G mobile communications ecosystem of tomorrow at Mobile World Congress 2018.