Industry data from Viavi Solutions has revealed just how popular 5G became in 2022, evolving from being a developed markets offer into a global phenomenon, a service only available in developed markets to a worldwide phenomenon, with commercial 5G networks now operating in 2,497 cities across 92 countries and 47 of the world’s 70 largest economies by GDP.
The seventh annual The state of 5G report also showed a further 23 countries are already conducting pre-commercial 5G trials and 32 countries have announced intentions to implement 5G. This leaves just 48 countries, many of which are smaller island nations, that have not yet made their 5G plans public.
A total of 18 countries announced their first 5G deployments in 2022. These include two of the largest developing economies, India and Mexico, as well as other emerging economies such as Angola, Ethiopia, and Guatemala.
Perhaps most interesting, however, is the fact that the clash between the superpowers extends to 5G, with the US overtaking China in the number of 5G cities for the first time.
There are now 503 US cities with active 5G networks, up from just 297 in May 2022 – which is a 69% growth. In comparison, since Viavi’s June 2021 update, the number of 5G cities in China has stayed constant at 356. China, however, led in other key metrics, such as data speed, 5G subscribers, and base stations deployed.
The study found that, with 44% of the publicly announced deployments, the manufacturing sector has emerged as a clear leader in private 5G, following logistics, education, transport, sports, utilities, and mining. This finding confirms a trend that has only been more evident since the beginning of 2023.
This trend seems to indicate the business world’s pragmatic approach to private 5G, with organizations with the biggest connectivity pain points and the biggest smart application opportunities naturally emerging as private 5G front-runners.
Businesses in these industries frequently operate in difficult conditions where high-speed internet may not be a given, Viavi researchers note. These verticals overlap with the industries where internet of things (IoT) applications have developed the most, generating talks about smart factories, smart cities, and other IoT-related topics. They also pointed out that the close relationship between private 5G and IoT capabilities coincides with telecom operators’ new view of IoT as an almost entirely vertical revenue opportunity.
The report also demonstrated the growth of standalone 5G, with 45 SA 5G networks operational in 23 nations by January 2023. In contrast, there were only 24 NSA networks globally in January 2022. n addition, the study highlighted the diverse and widespread interest in mmWave around the world.
Spectrum for 5G in the mmWave band, i.e. 24 GHz and above, has garnered a lot of interest from various countries. Several of the largest mobile markets in the world, including China, India and the US, have made mmWave available, as well as those with small populations like Seychelles and Guam.
“2022 was 5G’s graduation year,” commented Sameh Yamany, CTO at Viavi Solutions. “On a technical level…with a near doubling of standalone 5G networks, the capabilities of 5G have expanded significantly and we can look forward to more sophisticated network and business capabilities from operators. In the coming year, a major focus will be network quality and the further development of Open RAN technologies – and we’ll be playing our part in ensuring those are as successful as possible.”