In its report, 5G Market Strategies: Consumer & Enterprise Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2025, the research firm ranked NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, LG U+, KT and SoftBank as the world’s top five “most promising 5G network operators.”
Japanese mobile giant Docomo topped the list as No. 1, overtaking the top spot from SKT, which led the pack in the same study last year and slipped into second place in 2018.
The research firm said it assessed over 50 global operators for the study and evaluated them based on results of 5G testing and trials, the extent and range of partnerships in the ecosystem and the level of technology innovation.
Japan, South Korea account for 43% of 5G connections in 2019
Apparently, Japan and South Korea have established themselves as clear leaders in the development of 5G, says Juniper Research.
In a white paper, Operators Need to Secure 5G ROI ~ Here’s How, accompanying the study, the research firm predicts that 43% of global 5G connections in 2019 will be in Japan and South Korea.
Juniper Research also forecasts that first commercial network launches are expected in 2019 and that the first networks with 5G services will be in the Far East, China and North America. These regions are expected to account for all of the predicted 1.05 million 5G active connections by the end of 2019.
“Over the past 2 years, operators and network vendors have been actively trialing their 5G solutions, including antennas, core networks and beamforming. Since 3GPP standards have been finalized for 5G NRs (New Radios) many of these trials have focused on interoperability between devices and 5G networks,” the research firm said.
“As a result, leading operators are now aiming for a launch date in 2019. Indeed, many operators have begun rolling out antennas and backhaul infrastructure to provide a 5G service. Initial 5G coverage will be in urban areas.”
220m 5G broadband connections by 2025
The research firm also forecasts that 5G broadband will be amongst the first services to launch over 5G. Its suitability as a last mile solution will drive adoption to over 220 million connections by 2025.
However, the challenge for operators will be to demonstrate tangible benefits, to enterprises and consumers, over existing fiber-based solutions, warns research author Sam Baker.
“Operators must carefully consider pricing strategies for 5G broadband,” Baker said. “Pricing must address both the anticipated large traffic generated, whilst remaining price competitive against incumbent broadband suppliers.”
He also cautions that operators faced significant challenges both to deploy and most effectively configure 5G networks.
“With the need to deploy dense small cell networks, operators would need far greater access to sites to upgrade and share equipment,” Baker said.
“Furthermore, we would urge operators to invest in virtualized networks to enable both more efficient traffic management and improve security in the network perimeter.”