The world is racing to implement 5G infrastructure, in anticipation of future demands.
Faster networks and lower latency will see more devices being connected. The proliferation of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and big data will drive Industry 4.0. Launches of commercial 5G networks in Asia beginning next year will see the Asia region reach 675 million 5G connections by 2025, more than half of the global 5G total expected by that point. Asia’s move to state-of-the-art mobile broadband networks reflects the mobile ecosystem’s growing value to the region’s economy. According to the report, Asia’s mobile industry added $1.5 trillion in economic value last year, equivalent to 5.4 per cent of regional GDP.
“The Asia Pacific region has experienced rapid migration to mobile broadband networks and smartphones over recent years and is now set to play a pioneering role as we move into the 5G era,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General. “Mobile operators in Asia will invest almost $200 billion over the next few years in upgrading and expanding their 4G networks and launching new 5G networks in order to accelerate the growth of Asia’s digital economies and societies.”
5G is the newest wireless networking technology that phones, smartwatches, cars, and other mobile devices will use in the coming years, but it won't be available in every country at the same time.
Some estimates, like this one from Ericsson, forecast that 1.5 billion users will be subscribed to a 5G network by 2024, and that coverage will blanket over 40 percent of the world's population.
5G is live in a handful of areas, but widespread coverage isn't expected until 2020.
These three South Korean companies collaborated to bring mobile 5G to the country on December 1, 2018: SK Telecom, LG Uplus, and KT. They currently provide access with mobile 5G routers since 5G phones aren't set to come out until March of 2019.
The SK Telecom service provider offers 5G to the Myunghwa Industry manufacturing company, located in Ansan, and they plan to provide enterprise customers with 5G in six metropolitan areas: Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Ulsan, and Gwangju. SK began trialing 5G service in 2017 before successfully using 5G in their self-driving test site K-City.
LG Uplus' 5G network went live in Seoul and surrounding locations, with LS Mtron as their first customer. With over 4,000 5G base stations positioned in Incheon, Seoul, and Gyeonggi, the company planned over 7,000 more to be deployed by the end of 2018.
KT Corporation launched 5G at Lotte World Tower in Seoul and six other areas including Jeju, Ulleungdo, and Dokdo, with plans to expand to 24 major cities. The company previously collaborated with Intel to showcase 5G service at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, and plans to invest over $20 billion through 2023 in 5G and other innovative technologies
According to the ICT and Broadcasting Technology Policy director at the Ministry of Science and ICT, Heo Won-seok, five percent of the country's mobile users will be on a 5G network by 2020, 30 percent within the following year, and 90 percent by 2026.
NTT DOCOMO is Japan’s largest wireless carrier. They've been studying and experimenting with 5G since 2010 and plan to launch 5G service in 2020.
In September, 2018, NTT DOCOMO successfully achieved 25–27 Gbps download speeds in a 5G trial with Mitsubishi Electric. The test could be used to develop a high-speed 5G network that works with vehicles.
According to the company, "The demonstration was conducted during joint outdoor field trials using 28GHz-band massive-element antenna systems and 16-beam spatial-multiplexing technology with 500MHz bandwidth."
DOCOMO and Toyota tested controlling a humanoid robot on 5G in November, 2018. Toyota's robot, T-HR3, was initially tested using a wire but can now run remotely on 5G with low latency. The robot was built to "safely support human activities in a variety of circumstances, such as homes and healthcare institutions."
China’s director of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Wen Ku, has said that “The goal is to launch pre-commercial 5G products as soon as the first version of standards comes out...”.
Along with the Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator, China Unicom, who's expected to build 5G pilot projects in 16 cities including Beijing, Hangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Zhengzhou and Shenyang, is China Mobile who will reportedly deploy 10,000 5G base stations by 2020.
3 Hong Kong is in the early stages of 5G development. They tested 5G outdoors in late 2018 in Causeway Bay, and reached speeds over 2 Gb/s.
However, the United States government has talked about nationalizing 5G in the US to purportedly protect the US from malicious Chinese attacks, and some companies like AT&T have been pressured from the US government to cut ties with phones made in China. This might affect the timeframe for Chinese telecom providers to release 5G.
According to Ooredoo, a telecom company in Qatar that has been working on implementing 5G since 2016, they are the first company in the world to provide commercial 5G access.
At the moment, 5G is only available in Qatar, but since Ooredoo has markets in Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Maldives, Singapore, Algeria, and other countries, it isn't a stretch to think that we'll see 5G reach those areas in 2019–2020.
Vodafone is another company in the process of providing 5G service in Qatar. In December, 2018, the company launched a 5G network in Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif, and before that, in Abu Hamour, Azizya, Al Mamoura, Al Rayyan, Salwa Road, and Umm Salal Mohammed.
Ooredoo is also looking into using 5G for home broadband service.
Two out of three of the telecommunication companies in Kuwait have launched 5G service.
Zain was the first, announcing the 5G launch in June, 2018. On the same day, just hours later, Ooredoo announced similar news.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released this PDF in late 2017 that outlines the 5G standard draft and shows a timeframe for when 5G should be deployed around the world.
According to Manoj Sinha, the minister of the Department of Telecommunications, India is set to adopt 5G by that same year: “When the world will roll out 5G in 2020, I believe India will be at par with them.”
On top of that, in August 2018, one of India's largest telecom providers, Vodafone Idea Limited (previously called Idea Cellular), merged with Vodafone (which was the world's second largest phone company before the merger). Vodafone was already preparing for 5G, having set up "future ready technology" in 2017 by upgrading their entire radio network to support 5G.
Reliance Jio is another mobile network operator in India that plans to provide 5G services in 2020.
Anyone who attended the Asian Games in 2018 could have tried out 5G in Jakarta, Indonesia. A special Telkomsel SIM card was needed in order to connect to the network.
It's unclear whether Indonesia will see commercial 5G begin to roll out in 2019 or 2020, or later, but a trial of this size was a great indicator that they're on a track of some sort.
Turkcell is Turkey's largest mobile phone operator. In early 2017, the company completed a 24.7 Gb/s 5G trial with Ericsson, and in September of 2018 announced an agreement with Nokia to develop 5G technologies.
In November, the company trialed 5G fixed wireless access solutions with Samsung in Istanbul. Turkcell's CEO commented that "Today, with 5G, we have shown that the latest generation of high-speed wireless access is now possible for our customers. Our goal is clear: to make Turkey one of the first countries in the world with 5G technology."
It's clear that Turkcell is on the right path to providing Turkey with 5G, but it's unclear when, exactly, customers can expect a live network.
Vietnam will likely see 5G in 2020. According to the country's state-owned and largest telecom, Viettel, they'll run 5G trials in 2019 and will have a network ready to introduce the following year.
Advanced Info Service (AIS), the country's largest mobile phone operator, is testing 5G in Thailand but hasn't indicated when they plan to go live with a commercial 5G network.
StarHub announced in November, 2018, that they, in partnership with Nokia, completed their first outdoor pilot of 5G on the 3.5 GHz frequency band. However, there's no information on when StarHub will have a 5G network ready for Singaporean customers.
The wireless communications company Smart has been testing 5G since 2016, and announced in June of 2018 the launch of 5G TehnoLab, their 5G innovation lab. Smart plans to have a 5G-ready network live for customers by 2020.
In November, 2018, Smart rolled out their first 5G cell sites in the Philippines. They were erected in Makati Central Business District (Makati CBD) and at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
In Smart's 5G testing, they've managed to achieve speeds of over 14 Gb/s, and have completed a 5G-enabled video call.
Although Bangladesh is one of the top 10 most populous countries in the world, it was very slow to roll out 4G and will likely also take much longer than other countries to implement 5G.
However, in early 2018, telecommunications regulator BTRC said that “The world will embrace 5G in 2020. So, we too will have to accept new technology and must move on to 5G. There is no option for procrastination.”
BTCL and Banglalink are two companies to watch for 5G in Bangladesh.
5G in Malaysia will likely start to be available in specific areas in 2020.
According to the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission), which established a "national 5G Task Force" in November, 2018, a complete study and report on a 5G deployment in Malaysia will be available by September, 2019.
5G might go live for consumers by 2020 given that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is preparing for public 5G trials in 2019.
(from various sources)