The Great Race for 5G, as Seen by the U.S. and Europe
An August 2017 Gartner survey found that 75% of people are OK paying more for 5G in exchange for new 5G mobile and IoT capabilities. The U.S. is considering an accelerated pace for nationalizing a secure 5G network to protect U.S. phone calls from foreign spying and cyber threats. Axios first broke the news on January 28th, and the proposal has now been superseded by a later draft reputed to be more evenly balanced in terms of whether the Fed or telecom companies would coordinate the effort. The FCC (the governing body of such efforts) chair opposes the plan, as have all 4 FCC commissioners – we’ll see how this plays out.
If the Fed chooses to take the helm, they would play landlord to the network, renting out usage to the carriers who might carry out most of the work without input towards the infrastructure design risks. 5G wireless is currently a mix of strategies on frequencies (low-, mid- and high-band), where wavelength trades off distance vs. signal strength, potentially creating a scattershot series of hotspots instead of continuous coverage.
But one thing is clear: American telecom has done the research and designed their own plans for making 5G a reality to meet their own visions. AT&T announced 5G mobile internet roll out plans by late 2018, and Verizon will use Samsung to roll out 5G in 3 to 5 U.S. cities this year as well. Sprint intends to launch a network by 2019’s end. T-Mobile is playing spoiler, declaring “Nationwide Mobile 5G will require both high-band AND broad low-band coverage, and having unused nationwide 600 MHz spectrum means T-Mobile is in an ideal position to deliver.” The question mark of federal control only serves to slow current carrier roll out plans – it remains to be seen if this means more time to plan or a rushed rollout focused more on a deadline than proper testing (as happened with healthcare.gov).
Meanwhile, Europe’s single market approach is currently: 5G-experiments and field tests during 2018, wavelength decisions for low-, mid- and high-band by 2019, commercial introduction of 5G services in at least one city by 2020, and 5G in ALL urban areas and main transport paths by 2025. However, the EU’s regulatory approach is seen by some as too slow compared to other parts of the globe. A joint statement by Cable Europe, COCIR (healthcare IT alliance), Developers Alliance, Digital Europe, ETNO, and GSMA Europe criticized the EU lawmakers’ “timid approach”. Nokia, Vodaphone and Ericsson are likewise unhappy with Europe’s progress, especially compared to China and the U.S.
In 2013, the European Commission signed an agreement with the 5G Infrastructure Association to create a public-private partnership. In 2016, the European Commission launched 5G for European Action Plan, which partners telecom with start-ups and academia to coordinate R&D and pilot program rollouts. The goal is to make 5G a reality for all European citizens and businesses by 2020. This includes the EU’s METIS-II project that concluded in June of 2017, a 5G radio access network (RAN) design for the air interface and underlying framework, by a brain trust that includes Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Orange, Samsung, Japan’s leading carrier NTT DoCoMo, and 2 U.S. universities. Telia, Intel and Ericsson already did Europe’s first live 5G deployment, with a goal for having all of Europe at some level of 5G by 2025, and GSMA estimates that 31% of all European mobile connections will be 5G by 2025.
Where do other countries stand? China’s three telecoms are forecasting up to $180B over the next 7 years compared to Japan’s $46B over the same time period. South Korea deployed 5G at their just-held Winter Olympics. Telia, Intel and Ericsson already did Europe’s first live 5G deployment, with all of Europe should have some level of 5G by 2025, and GSMA estimates that 31% of all European mobile connections will be 5G by 2025. Ericsson’s Arun Bansal foresees a $582B global opportunity by 2026. Canada’s pilot test with TELUS and Huawei projects that 5G will be mainstream with the benefit of the 200x of 5G over current LTE networks. In Mexico, Carlos Slim’s Movil has moved forth with 4.5G and expects to have made healthy progress with 5G by 2020.
Where do other countries stand, in what Ericsson’s Arun Bansal foresees a $582B global opportunity by 2026? China’s 3 telecoms are forecasting up to $180B over the next 7 years compared to Japan’s $46B over the same time period. South Korea deployed their 5G at their just-held Winter Olympics. India just had its first 5G network trial in Gurgaon, partnering Airtel and Huawei, with a goal of consumer rollout starting in 2020. Canada’s pilot test with TELUS and Huawei projects that 5G will be mainstream with the benefit of the 200x of 5G over current LTE networks. In Mexico, Carlos Slim’s Movil has moved forth with 4.5G and expects to have made healthy progress with 5G by 2020.
QualiTest, the world’s largest pure play software testing company, has been helping telecom experts worldwide for almost 20 years and have been involved in key telecom relationships with all of the leading 5G hardware and software providers globally, delivering B2B, B2C and C2C software solutions they can trust. We have 3GPP unified 5G testing capability with partners like Ixia as well as a mobile test lab and managed crowd testing with global reach. QualiTest has been involved in first ever MMS message in the UK, fastest and first 4G rollout in the UK, and the first deployment of a UK IP core network. Upcoming testing challenges for 5G will include higher data transfer speeds, extreme node density, ubiquitous coverage, low latency, high reliability, and supporting variable bandwidth across carriers and of course ever increasing cost pressure. The race is on!