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Global race for 5G for connected homes, autonomous vehicles and drones, smart cities and Military

Mobile communications systems have evolved through wireless technology innovation into 2G, 3G, and then 4G to keep pace with ever-increasing voice and data traffic. Every generation of wireless technology brought many improvements including speed enabling many new applications. 1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, have scaled up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.


5G, short for 5th generation mobile networking or 5th generation wireless systems is the latest iteration of cellular technology that will provide seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency, and highly reliable communications. Part of the 5G spec allows 5G phones to combine 5G and 4G channels invisibly and seamlessly to the user. Initially, all 5G networks used 4G to establish their initial connections, something called “non-standalone.” We’re starting to move away from that now into “standalone” networks.


It will increase energy efficiency, spectrum efficiency, network efficiency and act as an information duct to connect billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The upcoming universal specification will support a million connected devices per square kilometer; 1-millisecond latency, or the amount of time a packet of data takes to get from one point to another; higher energy and spectral efficiency; and a peak data download rate of up to 20 gigabits per second.


The Fifth Generation (5G) mobile networks being deployed promise fast Internet for everyone, smart cities, driverless cars, critical health care, “internet of things” revolution, and reliable and secure communications for critical infrastructures and services. International Telecommunication Union’s 5G vision is “seamlessly connected society that brings together people, along with things, data, applications, transport systems, and cities, in a smart, networked communications environment.”


5G is here now, and we are seeing new 5G NR devices and networks being launched at a rapid rate. 5G  technologies have been trialed in many countries. According to the Ookla® 5G Map™, there were 5G deployments in 112 countries as of November 30, 2021. That’s up from 99 countries on the same date a year ago. The total number of deployments increased dramatically during the same time period with 85,602 deployments on November 30, 2021 compared to 17,428 on November 30, 2020, highlighting the degree to which 5G networks scaled during the year.


Global 5G mobile subscriptions were estimated to be  more than 660 million by the end 2021, with China accounting for almost 80% of the total, according to Ericsson Mobility report. This growth is being driven by high levels of consumer demand in North America and North East Asia, particularly China; early deployment and commitment to 5G networks; and falling smartphone prices. 5G subscriptions in North East Asia far outstripped any other region in the world, with subscriptions totalling 517 million. China made up 460 million of these, or 70% of the global total. By contrast, North America totalled 80 million subscriptions and Europe 33 million.


5G phones are mainstream now; Mid-band 5G is in the 2 to 10GHz range. That covers most current cellular and Wi-Fi frequencies, as well as frequencies slightly above those. Verizon says the Apple iPhone 12 and 13 series, the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, Z Flip3 and Z Fold3, and soon the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro support mid-band. AT&T has a similar list but adds the Galaxy A13 5G. More mid-band phones will come out this year, and more existing models may be certified over the next few months.


High-band 5G, or millimeter-wave, is in the 20-100GHz range. OnePlus 9 Pro, the Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy Z Flip3 and Fold3, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the iPhone 12 series, and the Pixel 5 all have high-band. Other countries have even more 5G phones, with models from Huawei, Oppo, Realme, Xiaomi, and others.


Speedtest Intelligence data from Q3 2021 shows a wide range of median 5G speeds among global capitals. Seoul, South Korea and Oslo, Norway were in the lead with 530.83 Mbps and 513.08 Mbps, respectively; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Doha Qatar followed. Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway had some of the the fastest median upload speeds over 5G at 56.26 Mbps and 49.95 Mbps, respectively, while Cape Town had the slowest at 14.53 Mbps.


However, at present, we are seeing the deployment of  5G technology, however, seeing “5G experience” may still take a few years.  The first 4G phones in the US appeared in 2010, but the 4G applications that changed our world didn’t appear until later. Snapchat came in 2012, and Uber became widespread in 2013.


Speaking at the 9th Global Mobile Broadband Forum, Huawei’s rotating chairman Ken Hu said: “5G will start a technology revolution.” “It will bring new power to all ICT technologies, and trigger sweeping changes in business. There will be new opportunities the likes of which we’ve never seen.”


He went on to outline the five fundamental changes that 5G will bring:

1. 5G will turn connectivity into a platform. With 5G, wireless access networks will go beyond pipe, providing seamless, ubiquitous, and limitless connectivity for all people and all things.

2. Everything will go online. Right now, most things are offline by default, and most electronic devices are not connected. With 5G, being online and connected will become the default for everything.

3. The world will go all cloud. Supercharged with 5G, the cloud will provide massive computing power with instant transfer speeds and near-zero lag. This will make intelligence on demand available for everyone, everywhere. New business models like Cloud X – where devices are boosted by inexhaustible cloud-based resources – will begin to emerge.

4. Devices will be redefined. With AI support across devices, network, and the cloud, devices will go from plug and play to plug and think. They will understand users better – able to actively predict our needs, not just passively respond to commands – and interact with us in more natural ways.

5. Experience will flow seamlessly. With existing networks, our online experience is fragmented from one scenario to another. When all things are online and cloud-based, experience and content will flow seamlessly through time, space, and devices for a truly holistic experience across all scenarios.


5G Applications

The first major 5G application is home internet. Both T-Mobile and Verizon are selling home internet services based on their mid-band and high-band 5G networks. Home subscribers typically use hundreds of gigabytes per month, more than our 4G networks are designed to handle. The 5G networks have enough capacity to handle that demand.


5G home internet is easier for carriers to roll out than house-by-house fiber optic lines. Rather than digging up every street, carriers just have to install fiber optics to a cell site every few blocks and then give customers wireless modems.


Remotely piloting robots and drones is another 5G emerging use. Because 5G has lower latency than 4G, remote pilots can control vehicles from a distance without lag, and because 5G has more bandwidth, they can get reliable multi-camera video feeds from vehicles to see where they’re going. In Toronto, Tiny Mile delivery robots are delivering snacks piloted by Bell’s 5G network. Verizon has shown remote-piloted drones playing roles in industry, agriculture, and firefighting, using 5G to send back video and sensor data.


5G will let driverless cars communicate with each other and the infrastructure they pass such as smart roads, traffic lights, and other vehicles. Wirelessly connected smart cars shall gather sensor and camera data in a vehicle as well as supplementary information from the neighboring vehicles to reliably inform about a potential emergency situation to the driver in real-time.  They may have to offload some of their processing power to larger, nearby computers—all of this only works fast enough to prevent collisions if you’re on a low-latency 5G network, not on 4G.


5G will realize networks capable of providing Ultra-broadband and intelligent-pipe network features that achieve near-instantaneous, “zero distance” connectivity between people and connected machines – no matter where they are.  Massive capacity for delivery of services will allow connections between end users and the network to be made at “faster than thought” speeds – so fast that the apparent distance between connected people and connected machines will shrink to a virtual “zero distance” gap. Data download speeds on 5G networks are likely to be several hundred times more than 4G.


HD video or teleworking will be commonplace and available anywhere, regardless of if the user is in a dense area like a stadium or a city centre, or in a village or in a high speed train or an airplane. With 5G live gaming and real-time video streaming will be possible without any lags as data transmission happens literally in the blink of an eye.


5G is about raising the minimum connection speed to allow for multiple high-quality streams and quickly switching between cameras with low latency. Verizon has shown an NFL experience where viewers can switch between seven high-quality camera views during a game. Bell, in Canada, has put dozens of cameras around a hockey arena to let you pivot through a smooth 360-degree view of the action.


5G will play  a role in augmented reality and the “metaverse.” The idea is that if you’re going to be wearing AR glasses outdoors, seeing business ratings pop up over the front doors of restaurants and talking to the holographic ghosts of people walking next to you, you’re going to need the low latency and reliable speed 5G offers.


Immersive Multimedia Experience to the users through life-like multimedia streams anytime and anywhere. Users will feel as if they are part of the scene when they watch videos on their smart devices. Everything stored and processed on the cloud and immediately accessed with low latency, 5G will provide users with a desktop-like experience using only simple input and output interfaces on mobile devices.


5G will additionally also connect myriad of new devices including machines, sensors, actuators, vehicles, robots and drones, to support a much larger range of applications and services. The number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) is estimated to reach 50 Billion by 2020 and 5G will make the “Internet of Things” a reality. Ubiquitous connectivity – a basic tenet of the 5G services, will allow a device will be able to maintain network connectivity regardless of time and location, and open the possibility to connect all the connected devices without human intervention. Smart Homes where Dishwashers will fix themselves using information from peers of the same model, home appliances may cooperate to extinguish a fire, smart refrigerator, recommending a recipe of cuisine to be cooked with ingredients that are already in your refrigerators.


“The expectations for 5G communications will continue to grow based on the rising demands for smart devices, cloud services, smart home technology, and Internet of Things”, said Chang Yeong Kim, Head of DMC R&D Center of Samsung Electronics.  Over time, any mobile app and any mobile service will be given the potential to connect to anything at any time – from people and communities to physical things, processes, content, working knowledge, timely pertinent information and goods of all sorts in entirely flexible, reliable and secure ways.


While an individual consumer can use 5G for making calls and browsing the internet, the technology’s main benefit lies in creating new businesses, automating factories and running critical infrastructures like power grids.  5G networks will deliver an end-to-end latency of less than 5 milliseconds and over-the-air latency of less than one millisecond which is one-tenth compared to the latency of a 4G network. This will support the cloud storage/computing infrastructure of the future, and industries like healthcare and transportation. It will enable doctors to perform robotic surgery, and provide critical and specialized health care services from any part of the world. 5G supports connections even when the user device is moving at up to 500 km/h. This capability is crucial for connected car applications, as well as vehicles travelling at even higher speeds, such as bullet trains.


The 5G infrastructure will cover the network needs and contribute to the digitalization of vertical markets such as automotive, banking, education, city management, energy, utilities, finance, food and agriculture, media, government, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, transportation and retail.


Smart Stores that by tracking people doing window shopping, shall be able to send customized alerts for low priced product to the user’s devices. Smart Offices where printers will print out the relevant documents when the user passes by the printer, Alerts on the upcoming meetings, materials and documents relevant to that meeting will instantaneously become available to the user’s device.


Economic and Military benefits

The economic benefits from the 5G technology are also quite immense. As per the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Committee on Digital Economic Policy, it has been stated that 5G technologies rollout will help in, increasing GDP,  creating employment and digitizing the economy.


The technology is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance. According to the latest estimates published in an Informa Tech research paper, 5G technology could be responsible for 22.3 million jobs and $13.2 trillion of global economic output by 2035.


This new technology will also play a key role in the battle network. Communications is a critical part of any military efforts and links must be reliable, secure, and without delays. With the capability of simultaneously linking millions of transceivers within a defined area, it will enable military personnel – departments and individuals – to transmit to one another, almost in real time, maps, photos and other information about the operation under way.


5G technologies could have a number of potential military applications, particularly for autonomous vehicles, C2, logistics, maintenance, augmented and virtual reality, and ISR systems—all of which would benefit from improved data rates and lower latency (time delay). 5G for the military could additionally improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems and processing; enable new
methods of command and control (C2); and streamline logistics systems for increased efficiency, among other uses.


5G technologies can also revolutionize modern warfare. The New York Times reported that the US administration contends that the world is engaged in a new arms race — one that involves technology, rather than conventional weaponry, but poses just as much danger to America’s national security. In an age when the most powerful weapons, short of nuclear arms, are cyber-controlled, whichever country dominates 5G will gain an economic, intelligence and military edge for much of this century.



Worldwide Race to 5G

The economic and military advantage has led to global race among countries including China, US, Korea and Japan to dominate this technology and introduce it first into market. Established telecom network gear makers like Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Fujitsu and Huawei are in intense competition to have their products out and gain a first-mover advantage.


China, the United States, Japan and Korea will account for more than half of the world’s subscribers to super-fast 5G mobile networks by 2025, leaving Europe lagging according to one report. In Korea, 66% of mobile connections will be 5G by mid-decade, GSMA Intelligence forecast in a 100-page study, followed by the United States on 50% and Japan on 49%. In terms of sheer numbers, China will predominate with 600 million 5G connections. Worldwide, 1.57 billion people are expected to adopt 5G by 2025 – or 18% of total mobile users.


For developing nations, it’s the spread of affordable connectivity through older 4G technology – and not 5G – that will affect the lives of billions of people for years to come, the research arm of telecoms industry group GSMA found. Looking to emerging markets like Nigeria, Mexico, India or Indonesia, a combination of cheap Android smartphones and affordable data still offers growth potential. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that 59% of total worldwide mobile connections will be 4G in 2025.


China  switched on the world’s largest 5G network, by  launching services for the next generation wireless technology in Nov 2019 . The country’s three state-run telecom operators, China Mobile (CHL), China Telecom (CHA) and China Unicom (CHU) are all offering 5G plans that start at 128 yuan ($18) for 30 GB of data per month, giving Chinese internet users access to the ultra fast service. 5G commercial services are now available in 50 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua. In Shanghai, nearly 12,000 5G base stations have been activated to support 5G coverage across the city’s key outdoor areas.


Among the competition venues built for the 7th Military World Games this coming October, the Dongxihu Sports Center will be the first to be put into use. The stadium will host its first event on March 1st when newly-promoted Wuhan Zall take on Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League. The venue features cutting-edge technology, including 5G.  According to the stadium’s management, 5G technology not only allows for facial recognition of attendees but also provides multi-perspective live broadcasting. The field communication system will ensure that 50,000 people are able to communicate simultaneously.


Other countries including the United States and South Korea launched 5G services in select areas earlier in 2019.  But China’s commercial network is the biggest, according to Bernstein Research, giving the county more influence over the technology’s global evolution.  5G network technology has started being trialed by many carriers while the deployment of 5G networks is expected between 2020 and 2030. The global race to its development has far-reaching implications as it is expected to be the backbone of the world’s increasingly demanding digital future.


“The notion of ‘America first in the race to 5G’ will not work and is not a winning strategy, nor should the aim of the United States be to deploy 5G ‘as soon as possible,’” one of the leading national security scholars of the US-China technology competition, Center for a New American Security fellow Elsa Kania writes in a new report. “Speed must not come at the expense of security, and future 5G networks should be secure by design from the start.” Huawei may be taking the lead worldwide today, but its products, while cheaper than the West’s, are notoriously ridden with sloppy code and deliberate backdoors that Chinese intelligence can exploit. Kania argues that the US government can and must foster research, development, and fielding of secure 5G technology.


Analyst Mason ranked ten countries on their 5G readiness. The findings show China, South Korea, the United States and Japan as the lead competitors in that order. China’s narrow lead is due to a combination of both proactive government policies and industry momentum. The study attributes the United States’ high ranking to the fact that America’s wireless industry is a global leader in preparing to deploy 5G commercially, with significant investments in these next-generation networks. In the second tier are key European markets including France, Germany, and Britain, with Singapore, Russia, and Canada in the third tier.


In the last decade, significant shifts have occurred in the wireless vendor community as well. Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei grew global revenues from approximately $28B in 2009 to $107B in 2018. Ericsson’s revenue during the same period fell from $27.9B to $23.9B,16 while Nokia’s revenue fell from $57.6B to $26.6B.17 Chinese handset vendors like Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have grown market share from less than approximately 6% in 2009 to over 30% share in 2018, and are still growing rapidly despite minimal sales in the U.S. market – for example, India represents a wireless market larger than that of the United States, and 59.7% of all handsets sold in India are Chinese.18 Chinese internet application companies, led by Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and new companies like TikTock are growing in influence and revenue. In 2009, all of the top 10 Internet companies by revenue were American. Today, four of the top 10 are Chinese.


When it comes to 5G standards, China, Europe, and the US have worked together to draw up common 5G standards, while China’s Huawei and the US’s Qualcomm have been in intense competition over coding standards. In the end, the Polar code promoted by Huawei was selected as the control channel encoding scheme for the application of 5G in the eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) scenario, while low-density parity-check (LDPC) code as pushed by Qualcomm is used for other scenarios such as ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine type communications. While China has a lot more say in technical standards now as compared to the 3G and 4G era, Qualcomm is still extremely influential in terms of core technical standards.


Phone manufacturers have started releasing and planning for models that will be able to run 5G.  The first 5G devices will be mobile hotspots. Motorola is gunning to be the first handset maker with a 5G-ready phone, announcing the Moto Z3 alongside a 5G Moto Mod. The $480 phone, which is exclusive to Verizon, will be out Aug. 16 but the Moto Mod won’t launch until 2019, when Verizon’s 5G network is actually functional. Huawei overtook Apple to become the world’s second best selling smartphone manufacturer in 2019, according to reports from Strategy Analytics, Counterpoint Research, and Canalys. Over the course of the year, the Chinese manufacturer reportedly shipped around 240 million phones, compared to just under 200 million for Apple. Samsung retained its comfortable lead in first place, shipping just shy of 300 million devices. Xiaomi and Oppo rounded out the list of the top five manufacturers.


The race for 5G’s global market debut has begun, with South Korea’s KT Telecom setting the stage for the first-ever official demonstration of 5G technology during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Apple obtaining the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval to test 5G communications, and Verizon testing 5G networks across 11 cities in the U.S. South Korea hopes to introduce 5G services in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics there, and the European Union wants 5G mobile broadband to be available around all its major roads and rail links by 2025. In India, Nokia has recently signed an MoU with BSNL and Airtel to work on 5G technology solutions, and Reliance Jio has tied up with Samsung to explore various technologies and equipment for 5G.


Starting in Europe, the coronavirus outbreak has devastated the continent. The majority of countries are under some form of self-isolation regime, while telecoms operators are directing their attention towards improving resilience of broadband and 4G networks. Starting in Europe, the coronavirus outbreak has devastated the continent. The majority of countries are under some form of self-isolation regime, while telecoms operators are directing their attention towards improving resilience of broadband and 4G networks. The longer Europe and North America are in lockdown, the more of an opportunity the Chinese telcos have to close the gap on 5G network deployment, overtake and potentially create a leadership position as the new era of connectivity heads into the mainstream.


China takes lead in the development and deployment

After South Korea, China ranks second as the country with the most cities in which 5G is available. As of Jan. 2020, China had deployed 5G technology in 57 cities. The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) projects China will have 460 million 5G connections by 2025.China plans to blanket urban areas with it by the end of 2020 and the rest of the country soon after. A local manager at one carrier estimated that even Tongguan, which lacks modern plumbing, could get the superfast networks by 2021. As it did in constructing its high-speed rail network and Olympic Games infrastructure, the Chinese government has flexed its authoritarian, top-down power to clear red tape for a 5G project that it deems a national priority. It has directed regulators, provincial and local governments and its three major state-owned wireless carriers to work together.


In 2015, China added the Digital Silk Road (DSR) to its massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While Beijing uses DSR to offer a suite of technologies to BRI countries, Huawei’s effort to provide next-generation communication networks to countries.


China has taken the lead in 5G development through a series of aggressive investment and spectrum-allocation initiatives. In addition to investing $180B in capital expenditure for 5G deployment over five years, China assigned 200 MHz of mid-band spectrum to its three state providers and is considering reallocating 500 MHz of C-band spectrum as well. Domestically, China’s 5G deployment is being implemented through its major telecommunications companies (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom). All three are primarily focused on developing a standalone 5G network in China, with plans to deploy pre-commercial application in 2019 and formal commercial application in 2020. China now has ~350,000 5G-operable base stations deployed, which is nearly 10 times as many as are deployed in the United States.


Although 5G is only a few months old in China, the nation’s three big mobile network operators were offering 5G service in 50 cities at the end of 2019. With 130,000 basestations deployed, around 10 million subscribers signed up and 13.8 million handsets shipped. Attorney General William P. Barr  noted that two Chinese telecom giants, Huawei and ZTE, account for about 40 percent of the global 5G infrastructure market, which is expected to serve as the backbone for trillions of dollars’ worth of economic and industrial activity in an increasingly digital global economy.


Globally, China’s large manufacturers (Huawei and ZTE) are pushing 5G deployment through commercial sales of 5G-enabling equipment and devices primarily for non-standalone networks, and Huawei has already shipped upwards of 10,000 base stations overseas. Huawei has 50 commercial 5G contracts that span at least 30 countries,” many of them in Europe, including both US allies and Russia. It holds more 5G patents than any competitor – 1,529 as of late last year, with Finland’s Nokia coming in second at 1,397, according to Kania.


Huawei and its wholly owned subsidiary HiSilicon increasingly influence the still-developing international standards for 5G, together making over 18,000 contributions to published standards, compared to just over 10,000 from Sweden’s Ericsson, not quite 7,000 from Nokia, and under 5,000 from US-based Qualcomm. While some countries have effectively banned Huawei from their domestic markets, including the US, Australia, and Japan, others remain addicted to Huawei’s low-cost and comprehensive offerings, including America’s prime ally, Britain.


China will issue provisional licenses for fifth-generation wireless networks in some parts of the country in 2019 and expects 5G mobile phones and tablet computers to become commercially available in the second half.  The country’s three mobile carriers — China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom — have installed 5G test networks in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. China’s total spending on 5G infrastructure by  its three telecommunications network operators is forecast to reach up to US$180 billion over a seven-year period.


All major Chinese providers have committed to specific launch dates and the government has committed to at least 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum and 2,000 MHz of high-band spectrum for each wireless provider. China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile network operator, announced plans  to start building trial 5G networks in major mainland cities from 2018 and launch full commercial services in 2020. China Mobile will build at least 5,000 fifth-generation wireless network technology base stations in Shanghai by the end of September (2019), answering the call of local authorities who aim for the installation of 10,000 such facilities in the eastern city by the end of 2020. The company aims to finish research and development scale testing of 5G this year, said Chen Li, general manager of China Mobile’s Shanghai unit.


Several Chinese smartphone makers have already started selling 5G devices in China. But Huawei is in pole position to dominate the market, “given its tight operator relationships in 5G network deployment, and control over key components,” according to Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys. Peng said in a research note on Wednesday that local rivals including Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi will “find it very hard to make any breakthrough.”


“The major Chinese internet companies, Baidu, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, will lead the way in introducing advanced consumer services based on 4K and 8K video, as well as augmented and virtual reality technologies, on the new 5G networks,”said Jefferies equity analyst Edison Lee.


Overseas, China has been developing partnerships with countries and foreign companies to expand its 5G influence. In Europe, Huawei and ZTE are offering their services to build individual countries’ 5G networks, and have signed multiple 5G contracts despite pressure from U.S. officials demanding that allies block Chinese companies. Additionally, China has invested significant time and resources into its Belt and Road Initiative, including a push for Chinese-built network infrastructure to provide connectivity across the length of the route. This strategy has already had some success: in Q3 of 2018, Huawei held 28% share of the global telecommunications equipment market, up four percentage points from 2015.  Huawei is expected to continue growing that share as more 5G networks are rolled out relying on Chinese telecommunications equipment. These efforts will allow China to promote its preferred standards and specifications for 5G networks and will shape the global 5G product market going forward.



South Korea

South Korea is closely following China in 5G maturity due to its early auction of spectrum and its general commitment to wireless technology. The South Korean government has built a clear roadmap including healthy investment to pursue 5G; in 2014, South Korea committed $1.5B to promote 5G adoption and deployment by 2020, and in 2017, South Korea released its national broadband and spectrum plan (“K-ICT”) to further promote 5G.


South Korea launched the world’s first nationwide 5G mobile networks two days early, its top mobile carriers said in April 2019, giving a handful of users access in a late-night scramble to provide the super-fast wireless technology. Three top telecom providers — SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus — began their 5G services at 11 pm local time on Wednesday, despite previously announcing the launch date would be April 5. Hyper-wired South Korea has long had a reputation for technical prowess, and Seoul had made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to stimulate stuttering economic growth.


According to the report, Korean telcos are expecting a big surge in 5G adoption in 2021, with top wireless carrier SK Telecom aiming to have 9 million 5G users by the end of the year, and smaller rival LG Uplus targeting 4 million.


South Korea is ahead of other countries in 5G deployment. The country has rolled out 5G to 85 cities as of Jan. 2020. Government officials estimate 90% of Korea’s mobile users will be on a 5G network by 2026. The key to South Korea’s success seems to stem from the collaboration of three carriers that have worked on 5G deployment: SK Telecom, LG Uplus, and KT Corp.


The South Korean government has set up the world’s first technology standards for high-end fifth-generation (5G) networks, the ICT ministry announced in August 2018. According to the new standards, a 3.5-gigahertz band operating equipment system for 5G networks can use bandwidth ranging from 3,420-megahertz (Mhz) to 3,700 Mhz, officials here said. The Ministry of Science and ICT said the standards detail various 5G equipment such as base stations and telegraphic translators ahead of the commercialization of the wireless high-speed networks slated for next March. The international Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards have also been applied to the local standards for compatibility, the ICT ministry said.


In line with the K-ICT plan, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) has since auctioned over 1,000 MHz of spectrum in the sub-6 and mmWave ranges to its three largest telecommunications providers (SK Telecom, KT Corp, and LG Uplus). South Korea has closely partnered with AT&T and Verizon to develop 5G mmWave networks, but has spread its risk in pursuing both sub-6 and mmWave by making its devices functional in both parts of the spectrum (as in the case of its Exynos 5100 5G modem).


Less than a year after launching the new technology, South Korea’s 5G networks are now carrying close to a fourth of all wireless network traffic in the country, according to new figures from the country’s telecoms regulator. South Korea’s three wireless network operators — SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus — all offer 5G services, though SK Telecom has taken a commanding lead in 5G market share, Kendall noted.


SK Telecom currently leads the field in investment and 5G trials, and was also able to acquire the largest amount of spectrum bandwidth in the 2018 MSIT auction, but all three telecoms providers plan to synchronize their launches of 5G cellular service in early 2019 for “Korea 5G Day.” South Korea is well-positioned in the 5G field and will likely continue to be a leader going forward as its major telecoms providers take advantage of their newly-auctioned spectrum bandwidth.


AT&T is also working with Samsung to release a cell phone with mmWave and sub-6 capabilities at the end of 2019, but these dual-function devices may have less capability in the United States, given the restricted range of sub-6 spectrum available. SK Telecom collaborated with Samsung to do a 360-degree VR video call via a tablet device. The big deal here is that the call was even maintained while moving around a high-rise urban environment, thus demonstrating the ability to keep a high bandwidth connection going in spite of real-world challenges, enabled by  beamforming technology. SK Telecom will test autonomous vehicles on public roadways in its effort to develop vehicle communications technology based on 5G.



China is slightly ahead of South Korea and the United States in the race to develop fifth generation wireless networks, or 5G, a US study showed. The study released by the CTIA, a US-based industry association of wireless carriers, suggested that the United States is lagging in the effort to deploy the superfast wireless systems that will be needed for self-driving cars, telemedicine, and other technologies.


In the information age, the nation that leads the world in wireless technology wins. To keep America’s edge, we must accelerate our development and deployment of 5G—the next-generation wireless network that can move massive amounts of data at exponentially faster speeds than existing 4G LTE networks, says whitehouse. In Nov 2018, President Donald J. Trump took decisive action by signing a Presidential Memorandum to develop a national strategy for spectrum policy that will advance America’s development of 5G.  America’s future will have connected homes and farms, autonomous vehicles, drones, and smart cities and communities. The Nation’s wireless networks must be ready to support the foundation of America’s future growth and prosperity. We will improve our national security through technological advancements. With 5G, we can better defend America with more resilient critical infrastructure, technologies like state-of-the-art radar systems, and cutting-edge communications on land and in space.


The FCC released its comprehensive 5G strategy, “Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology (FAST) Plan,” in September of 2018. The plan focuses on three main goals: pushing more spectrum into the marketplace, updating infrastructure policy, and modernizing outdated regulations to facilitate 5G in the United States. With regard to the spectrum goal, the FCC plans to hold three more auctions in 2019 to sell bands of mmWave spectrum, and is conducting research to understand options for opening up low- and mid-band spectrum. With regard to the infrastructure goal, the FCC is working to increase the speed of review for small cells at the federal, state, and local levels to facilitate faster fielding of 5G. With regard to the modernization goal, the FCC is focused on adjusting existing regulations and making new ones to support 5G deployment, such as updating its rules on network equipment to allow for more rapid cell fielding and preventing the sale of network equipment from companies that pose a national security threat to U.S. networks.


The telecommunications industry is organizing the effort to develop and deploy 5G in the United States, with increasing support from the U.S. government. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all developing their own 5G networks and 5G devices, each with their own strategy and method. Verizon and AT&T are focused on developing high-band mmWave networks and are in the process of deploying small cells in various test cities for mobile and fixed applications, Sprint is taking a joint approach of mmWave and mid-band spectrum to build out its network, and T-Mobile is focused on mmWave and low-band spectrum. While all carriers are looking into sub-6 spectrum options to some extent, they are inherently restricted by smaller amount of bandwidth available in sub-6 relative to the hundreds of GHz available in mmWave, and this constraint is exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. government owns large portions of the sub-6 spectrum.


AT&T conducted 5G trials in Austin TX, Waco TX, Kalamazoo MI, and South Bend IN in 2017, and plans to launch mobile 5G across several cities in 2018 and 2019. Verizon currently offers 5G broadband internet in areas of Houston TX, Sacramento CA, Indianapolis IN, and Los Angeles CA. Pre-orders for Verizon 5G Home started on September 13, with service beginning October 1. Verizon has so far announced four markets in which it plans to launch its fixed 5G services by the end of  2018. Those include Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; and Sacramento, California. Samsung has been tapped to provide the radio equipment for Houston and Sacramento.


Verizon and Nokia have successfully conducted a new experiment that will (hopefully) bring us closer to 5G networks in our cars. The goal of the experiment was to have the car move from one radio sector to another, so that the companies could test if the signal hand-off between the two sectors would be seamless. The hand-off indeed was, seamless, and the experiment was deemed successful. “Unlike some of the incremental 5G technology announcements we’ve seen lately, tests like the one we conducted are significant advancements in the development of 5G technology,” said Bill Stone, vice president, technology development and planning for Verizon. “By taking these tests out of the lab and into the field, we’re replicating the experience users will ultimately have in a 5G mobility environment.”


ITIF recommends that the White House, Congress, and federal agencies:

  • Create a national strategy that accelerates deployment of 5G, through streamlined wireless siting and more commercial mid-band spectrum.
  • Encourage development and adoption of applications that take advantage of 5G breakthroughs through support for digital transformation R&D, smart-city test beds, smart manufacturing and agriculture, and government-agency adoption of 5G applications.
  • Ban equipment deemed a security risk through clearly stated policy and transparent risk analysis, and work with like-minded allies to ensure there is a large-enough market for trusted wireless equipment suppliers to compete.
  • Support expanded wireless R&D, fair processes in international standard-setting organizations, interoperability, and strong IP rights for wireless innovators.
  • Appropriate funds for pilot programs to identify challenges in transitioning wireless network functions toward software running on generic hardware infrastructure at scale.


Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has seized a commanding share of the global market for 5G networking equipment. But a new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, argues that the battle for leadership in next-generation wireless networking is not yet lost for the United States. “Huawei has made impressive advances in the global market for 5G networking equipment. But with the right national strategy, U.S. industry can still vault ahead,” said Doug Brake, director of broadband and spectrum policy at ITIF, who authored the new report. “There’s more than one way to engineer a 5G network. You don’t have to rely on Huawei hardware. You can instead virtualize networks by using general-purpose hardware with open interfaces and more sophisticated software—that strategy would play to U.S. strengths.”


The Trump administration placed Huawei and 114 of its affiliates on its Entity List in May 2019, which meant US firms were unable to sell technology to the company without government approval. The US also has accused Huawei of building backdoors into network infrastructure, ostensibly to aid Chinese government spying efforts. Huawei has repeatedly denied the Trump administration’s accusations of spying. An amended export rule would block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei to “strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology,” the agency announced in May 2020. The rule prevents foreign manufacturers of semiconductors who use American software and technology in their operations from shipping their products to Huawei unless they get a license from the US. That license requirement could allow the Commerce Department to block the sale of semiconductors made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) for Huawei’s HiSilicon unit, according to The Wall Street Journal.



Japan is following closely behind China, South Korea, and the United States in 5G capability. Japan has not yet auctioned off key parts of its spectrum bandwidth to commercial providers, but has plans to do so in 2019 and is currently developing both mmWave and sub-6 options (mmWave is being applied to limited, densely-populated geographic areas, while sub-6 is being used to cover the rest of the territory). In 2014, Japan stood up its 5G Mobile Forum (5GMF) to promote 5G research and development, coordinate 5G efforts across organizations, and promote general awareness of 5G.  In 2016, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) released a strategy document (“Radio Policy to Realize 5G in 2020”) that mapped out its commitment to and future deployment of 5G.11


Japan has met its goal to launch 5G mobile service by 2020. Japan’s largest wireless carrier, NTT DOCOMO, began its quest for 5G in 2010 with initial experiments. In Sept. 2019, the company rolled out pre-commercial 5G services. The test phase went well, and NTT DOCOMO began offering consumer 5G services on March 25, 2020.


Japan’s top three mobile phone carriers have begun trials of fifth-generation, or 5G, high-speed wireless communication technology, hoping to launch new services using the technology by as early as 2020.  In may 2017, KDDI demonstrated to the media the use of the 5G technology for virtual reality imaging linked to vehicle movements. NTT Docomo has conducted a trial streaming of 4K ultrahigh-definition landscape images from an observation deck of Tokyo Skytree on a screen set up in the first floor area of the 634-meter-tall tower. SoftBank Group plans to test the 5G technology for automated driving. In the experiment, data on a truck driver’s steering and pedal motions will be transmitted to driverless vehicles following in a convoy. All three companies are conducting trials in the sub-6 and mmWave ranges, and MIC has conducted a “5G System Trial” in Tokyo and rural Japan.


Rest of World (Non-US)

While China, South Korea, the United States, and Japan lead the field, the rest of the world is playing catch-up on 5G deployment. The United Kingdom, Germany, and France can be considered “second tier” 5G developers, while Singapore, Russia, and Canada make up the “third tier,” and the rest of the world comes after. These countries are beginning to auction off spectrum bandwidth with varying timelines and volume of spectrum made available, but many lack any formal policies or strategies to enable 5G implementation and most anticipate 5G launches outside of the 2020 timeframe.


The rest of Asia has made some strides in 5G, but few countries have invested the same time and resources as China, Japan, and South Korea. Russia released its “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” in 2017 that included a 5G roadmap, but has yet to develop any clear spectrum plan or devote significant resources to that roadmap.12 Russia used the 2018 FIFA World Cup to launch some of its 5G efforts, but is still highly reliant on foreign 5G technologies and partnerships to move its 5G development forward.



Although Europe led the charge into 2G, it has since been hampered by regulations that have limited its ability to rapidly make spectrum bandwidth available, and has continued to lag behind in 3G, 4G, and now 5G. European Union is funneling a fifth of its 750-billion-euro ($914 billion) recovery fund to improve countries’ digital capabilities.


“Europe is, unfortunately, behind,” Pekka Lundmark, chief executive of Finnish network equipment maker Nokia, told Reuters. But the rollout “is accelerating already and in 2021 I think it will gather more speed in most countries”. Swedish equipment maker Ericsson forecasts Europe’s 5G coverage should grow from around 1% of mobile subscriptions across the continent in 2020, to 55% in western countries and 27% in central and eastern states over the next five years, underpinning a longed-for economic recovery.



In 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended 3300 -3600 megahertz band for the commercial 5G deployment in the country that included 100 megahertz held by the naval forces which has recently been vacated by the Ministry of Defence.


The Indian army, navy, and air force are likely to embrace the next generation (5G) technology to bring artificial intelligence (AI) and unmanned vehicles to centre stage in a bid to compete with the most advanced armed forces worldwide, according to a top official. “Armed forces also will need to migrate to 5G network considering the use of unmanned vehicles and AI in future,” Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Defence told ETTelecom, adding that, “the ministry will take necessary steps to take forward 5G connectivity with relevant use cases.”


Kumar, however added that the 5G is at a nascent stage in India yet, and no commercial deployment has taken so far in the country, while the Indian forces are keen to leverage the futuristic technologies, reported in April 2021.



Canada’s fastest growing telecommunications company, and Huawei, one of the world’s largest information and communications technology companies, achieved a significant breakthrough with the successful completion of a 5G wireless connection using the global 3GPP technology standards platform. The pilot network was set up to reflect a real-world point-to-multi-point connection over commercial central office equipment and transport networks. The network leveraged equipment based on 3GPP 5G foundational technologies over a 28 GHz connection, although the 5G standards body will not be finalized until early 2018.


A promotion group called IMT-2020 was established in China to promote 5G technology research in chine as well as to facilitate global cooperation. A Public-Private Partnership on 5G was launched in December 2013 by the European Commission. The EU is investing €700 million by 2020 in this partnership through the research and innovation program known as Horizon. EU industry is expected to match this investment, by up to 5 times as much, to more than €3 billion euros.



Russia will have a domestic base station of the fifth-generation telecommunication technologies (5G, IMT-2020) in 2023, ANO Digital Economy said in Sep 2020, adding that its tests would begin in November of this year. The creation of the 5G base station is planned for 2021-2022, and in 2023 it is planned to launch its production … The LRC is playing the role of a hardware developer in this process and is planning to create a Russian innovative vendor company for communication networks of the fourth and fifth generations,” the Digital Economy said in a statement. The architecture of the base station has already been developed, the trials of its algorithms and the layout will begin in November(2020) . The development of a 5G network management system will continue until the end of 2021. The LRC is working together with the Russian Railways, Gazprom, Rosneft, Rostelecom and other major corporations. “The next-generation telecommunications networks are the fundamental basis of information infrastructure for the development of the Russian economy,” Sergey Nakvasin, the director of the Digital Technologies branch of ANO Digital Economy, said.



India plans to roll out 5G services for consumers by 2022 and to achieve that objective, the government has set up a high-level forum that will evaluate and approve roadmaps and action plans to bring in the latest technology in the country.  High Level 5G India 2020 Forum has been constituted with three Secretaries of key Ministries/Departments Telecom, Meity and DST, and also comprising of renowned experts like Dr. A. Paulraj, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, USA, Mr Gururaj Deshpande – Chairman of Sycamore Networks, Sandstone, USA,  Indian industry and IITs. The high-speed and low latency service will help Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India plan, which seeks to broaden Internet access, and the Smart Cities initiative.


Telstra  announced in August 2018 that it had switched on 5G technology across selected areas of the Gold Coast, making Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network the first in the country to be 5G ready. Australia’s Telstra has pegged 2020 as the year for the commercial launch of its 5G network.



“At this stage, it’s not possible to know which country or which company – or consortium of companies – will win the 5G race, but what is sure is that the win will depend on not only the speed of innovation but also the speed at which testing capabilities for those devices will follow. This is a complex challenge that the industry excitedly faces, and I believe the first one to pass the tests with flying colors will hit the market running and set the standard for the rest to follow, writes Nicolas Gross, Applications Director, Microwave Vision Group.


Whoever sets the standard for emerging 5G technology has the potential to extend surveillance and data mining on an unprecedented scale, Thomas Duesterberg, an expert, said at The Globalist, quoted by Asia Times. He said the way things are shaping up, it looks increasingly likely that it will be China that takes the lead and the US and Europe had better work together to address related cybersecurity concerns. If core 5G standards are adopted on the Chinese model, China will set the terms for how equipment manufacturers can license them. This would not only give Chinese firms the upper hand in equipment markets, but would increase danger to privacy and security of communications. Duesterberg’s final recommendation is that the national security teams from NATO allies and Japan should investigate questions related to cybersecurity and the looming implementation of 5G networks.






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