VIAVI has published a new report on the current state of 5G. The report indicates that 5G networks have now been deployed in 378 cities spread across 34 different countries around the globe.
According to VIAVI, South Korea has been the most enthusiastic adopter of 5G, with networks now active in 85 cities across the country. China and the United States followed with 57 and 50 cities, respectively. Those three countries alone accounted for 192 of the 378 total cities, which is to say that they accounted for more than half of the current 5G coverage.
Despite the somewhat concentrated focus, the numbers still speak to the astonishing expansion of 5G technology in the year. Only two service providers had reached the pre-commercial stage in February of 2018, and only 13 commercial networks were active in the early months of 2019. Those numbers have obviously exploded in the past 12 months, with VIAVI claiming that its impressive tally is accurate as of January 2020.
Geographically speaking, the EMEA region had the most deployments with 5G in 168 cities. The APAC region had 156, while the Americas only had 53, nearly all of which were based in the US.
VIAVI went on to argue that the next few years will be extremely competitive for mobile operators, who will need to ensure fast and reliable networks in order to win over new customers.
“For 5G operators there is a heady mixture of optimism and fear,” said VIAVI Chief Technology Officer Sameh Yamany. “The optimism is related to a plethora of new commercial applications that could change operator economics for the better. The fear is that they will get left behind in the short-term marketing battle by rival operators.”
Though their numbers are close at the moment, The GSMA has predicted that China will outpace the US in the commercial 5G foot race. Much of the country’s current infrastructure was activated in November, when China launched 5G networks in 50 cities as part of a massive nationwide initiative. The FCC, meanwhile, has set aside $9 billion to improve rural 5G coverage in the US.