Asia to beat Europe to first commercial 5G deployment, claims report


South Korea and Japan are amongst the countries predicted to be the first to deploy 5G commercially, beating Europe and the US to the punch, a new report has claimed.

According to forecasts by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, strong penetration of LTE in Asia means the region is well-positioned to support 5G thanks to an abundance of telco infrastructure.

[Read more: Lessons to be learnt from short-sighted network planning, say telcos]

LTE connections are close to 63 percent in South Korea and 44 percent in Japan, the firm claimed.

Additionally, 5G pilot projects are expected at the Tokyo Olympics and FIFA World Cup in Russia by 2018, while Asian companies such as NTT DoCoMo, Huawei and SKT are involved in ongoing 5G trials with partners, Frost & Sullivan highlighted.

[Read more: 5G battlelines drawn as Asia looks to stretch lead over Europe]

In Europe, meanwhile, the firm predicted that manufacturers will focus on using 5G as ”the brain for autonomous driving”.

It said 5G will act as an enabler for autonomous vehicles and machine-to-machine services, becoming the driving force behind machine learning, vehicle control, engine control unit integration and highly accurate GPS and sensor technology.

However, Frost & Sullivan pointed out that the far-reaching potential applications of 5G relied on its ability to deliver on near-zero latency and higher network coverage, availability and density.

Ramnath Eswaravadivoo, Senior Research Analyst, said: “The biggest challenge for network service providers is to enable 5G to provide end-to-end coverage and achieve latency less than one millisecond. As such network service providers have their work cut out to live up to 5G’s promise – the seamless extension of services and coverage anywhere, anytime, regardless of whether the user is in a dense area like a stadium/city centre or in a village/high-speed train.” 

Despite Asia’s heavy involvement in 5G, Europe continues to plough R&D into the technology.

Recent weeks have seen an abundance of 5G-related research groups, MoUs and partnerships spring up on the continent, with Nokia, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent proving key advocates.