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Global Progress to 5G -

Trials, Deployments and


Prepared by GSA based on information researched

from multiple industry sources

February 2019

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association 1

As the telecom industry races towards the commercial introduction of 5G
technology, the number of operators investing in 5G technologies is growing
substantially. Telecom operators from all continents have announced
involvement with 5G demonstrations, lab tests and field trials. Many have
announced formal plans for the launch of 5G services and some have even
201 operators in
83 countries have now announced service launches.
are testing or GSA has identified 201 operators, in 83 countries (see Figure 1) that are actively
trialling, or have investing in 5G (i.e. that have demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have
been licensed been licensed to conduct field trials of 5G technologies, are deploying 5G
to conduct field
networks or have announced service launches).
trials of 5G
technologies, Figure 1: Countries with operators investing in 5G networks (from pre-commitment trials
through to pre-commercial and commercial launches)
are deploying
5G networks or
have announced
service launches.
The equivalent
numbers in
2018 were 192
operators in 81

There have
been over 562
separate 5G
tests or trials,
up from 524 Between them, these operators have announced over 562 separate
compared to thr
demonstrations, tests or trials that we have been able to identify. Key 5G
figure at the end
of November technologies being explored include new radio (NR) interfaces operating in
2018 spectrum bands not previously used for mobile telecoms services and network
slicing to support delivery of services tailored to specific types of customer or
service; combinations of technologies such as massive MIMO , or complex beam-
forming that are needed to achieve very high speeds; and backhaul, cloud- and
edge-computing arrangements to support very low latencies. Recently tests
have also included the launch of pilot 5G networks and tests of 5G applications
such as 5G connected drones, stadium applications, holograms and connected
vehicles. The 3GPP standards for NR networks capable of running alongside

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
existing LTE networks, using non-standalone (NSA) mode for enhanced mobile
broadband, were agreed in December 2017. 3GPP Release 15 Standards for
standalone (SA) 5G NR mode for enhanced mobile broadband networks were
completed in June 2018. Further 5G standards evolution is expected in 3GPP
Release 16, due to be completed by December 2019. This paper summarises
the global state of testing and trialling of 5G systems by network operators
and focuses solely on what operators are reporting and announcing. It does
not analyse trials and tests being run by vendors independently of licensed
network operators, nor does it compare vendors’ various technologies.

At least 94 projects have involved testing massive MIMO in the context of 5G

(i.e. MIMO trials involving 64 or more transmitters, or lower order MIMO used
on new high frequency spectrum bands or involving some other 5G aspect
such as NR characteristics). We are also monitoring trials of network slicing
technology and 26 projects have been identified that have explicitly featured
network slicing.

Note that our definition of 5G trials exclude – where available data permits
– trials of so-called ‘massive MIMO’ technologies that do not offer at least 64
transmit channels at the base station. Such lower order MIMO trials with 8,
16 or 32 transmit channels (sometimes claimed by operators as pre-5G or 5G
technologies), or where the MIMO order is not revealed, are now counted in
GSA figures as LTE-Advanced or LTE-Advanced Pro trials as appropriate, unless
the tests have other characteristics that would make them intrinsically 5G (such
as use of new very high spectral frequencies or NR approaches).

Operator technology demonstrations, tests and trials

Spectrum bands used in trials

Around the world, regulators are either in the process of holding 5G auctions or
consulting and planning the allocation of 5G-suitable frequencies. At the same
time, operators have been working in many of the candidate spectrum bands.

The chart in Figure 2 shows the spectrum bands that have been used by
operators in demonstrations/trials where the spectrum details have been
released. Our analysis uses data reported by operators: note that some trials
involved more than one spectrum band, that there are multiple overlapping
spectrum bands reported by different operators, and that some operators
report simply ‘C-band’ or a specific frequency point (such as 3.5 GHz) without
elaborating on the upper and lower thresholds of the spectrum band(s) used.

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
Figure 2: Count of 5G demonstrations and trials according to spectrum bands used (demos/
trials where the spectrum used has been stated; often multiple trials per operator)

Although it appears that the 28 GHz band is most used, when added together,
variations of spectrum between 3300 MHz and 3800 MHz form the largest
group, as the chart below shows. Figure 3 depicts the spectrum bands used in
trials grouped into the new 3GPP 5G spectrum band definitions. When more

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
than one band is possible (because the operator has not been precise in its
press declarations), all possible bands are listed.
Figure 3: Spectrum bands used in 5G trials, mapped to 3GPP 5G spectrum band allocations

Band n78 (ranging from 3300 MHz to 3800 MHz) has been the most frequently
used band in trials and tests. Band n257 (ranging from 26.5 GHz to 29.5 GHz)
is the next most used.

Network throughput

One of the key metrics being reported is the peak downlink throughput of the
various demonstrations, tests and trials. The demonstrations and trials are
not really comparable, as they use varying amounts of spectrum and different
types of equipment, in contrasting physical environments and for a range of
applications. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that many of them report
that speeds well in excess of 1 Gigabit per second have been achieved. Trials
for very high speeds are proofs of concept; it is not expected that commercial
5G networks will be able to deliver the very highest speeds indicated in the

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
chart below for some time to come. Figure 4 summarises the results of the
demonstrations and trials where information has been made available: 196
in total.
Figure 4: Network throughput (DL) reported in 5G demonstrations and trials (base: 196 demos/

5G networks are expected to have substantially reduced latency compared
with current mobile networks. This is another key metric for demonstrations
and trials, as vendors and operators seek to achieve the 5G benchmarks. Once
again, the figures reported by demonstrations and trials are not comparable,
as they involve very different configurations (air interface latency, ‘end-to-end’
latency, etc.) and even in field trials, do not take place under real network
conditions but are illustrative of the fact that low latencies are being achieved.
It is interesting to point out that most trials (for which data has been reported)
have achieved latencies of between 1 to 1.99 ms.

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
Figure 5: Latencies reported in 5G demonstrations and trials (base: 69 demos/trials)

5G launches and deployments

Twenty-three operators in 13 countries have now announced that they have
launched 5G in base stations within their live networks. Two of these have
non-3GPP-compliant installations (Verizon and C Spire).

Eleven of these operators claim to have launched limited availability 5G FWA

services and eight to have launched limited availability 5G mobile services. In
all cases, end-user equipment is extremely limited (both in terms of types of
devices and numbers of those devices); in nearly all cases, service availability
is restricted to select groups of customers (in the case of the Fastweb/TIM
deployment in Bari/Matera – counted as a single network – service availability
is understood to be limited to test-bed solutions for selected partners); and in
nearly all cases geographic availability is restricted to a few key areas.

The larger of the 5G networks are understood to have been deployed in the
USA by:

•• AT&T (markets with services include Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston,

Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, San
Antonio, Raleigh, and Waco)
•• Verizon (parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento)

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
in South Korea by:

•• KT (network covering greater Seoul and six metropolitan areas)

•• SKT (Seoul and other metropolitan cities)
•• LG UPlus (estimated >5000 base stations)
and in Australia by:

•• Telstra (>200 5G base stations in Melbourne and Sydney).

The number of operators announcing schedules for the commercial introduction
of 5G services is expected to rise substantially in the next year to 18 months or
so as the first 5G-capable CPE devices and subsequently, smartphones, start
to emerge. In total, 90 telecom operators in 48 countries have announced
intentions of making full 5G services available to their customers between
2018 and 2022. 2020 is likely to be an important year for 5G launches, with
around 40 networks currently scheduled to go live that year.

Future work
The number of 5G-related activities, launches, deployments and trials around
the world is expected to continue to grow in the coming months as the first
5G-supporting devices emerge on the market from various vendors. GSA will
continue reporting on the developments on a regular basis. If your company
is conducting 5G tests or trials and we do not have you listed, please email us
at research@gsacom.com.

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association
About GSA
GSA (the Global mobile Suppliers Association) is a not-for-profit industry
organisation representing companies across the worldwide mobile ecosystem
engaged in the supply of infrastructure, semiconductors, test equipment,
devices, applications and mobile support services.

GSA actively promotes the 3GPP technology road-map – 3G, 4G, 5G – and
is a single source of information resource for industry reports and market
intelligence. GSA Members drive the GSA agenda and define the communications
and development strategy for the Association.

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NOTE: Errors and omission excepted

GSA Report | February 2019 | Global Progress to 5G - Trials, Deployments and Launches

©Copyright 2019 Global mobile Suppliers Association