Europe set to be tardy to the 5G party, claims new research

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Europe will be three years late to the 5G party, new research has claimed, with operators in the United States set to launch the world's first deployments by the end of this year.

IHS Markit found 82 percent of operators are currently trialling the technology, largely in North America and Asia. One in eight of these are planning a commercial launch by 2019 and are all in the US.

Stéphane Téral, Executive Research Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics, IHS Markit, said: “Get ready, 5G is around the corner. 5G is going live in North America by the end of 2018, and then in South Korea in 2019. Most operators in Europe, however, aren’t planning to deploy 5G until 2021 or later.”

Last week Swisscom accused the country's government of delaying its nationwide deployment plans through over-zealous regulation. Telia, Vodafone Spain and Fastweb are among the European telcos that have recently conducted 5G trials.

Téral's research found the operators testing 5G highlighted ultra-low latency as the key technical advantage for 5G, followed by cheaper cost per bit (76 percent) and increased network capacity (71 percent).

He added: “Every technical aspect that’s related to substantial improvement in network performance - lower latency, higher capacity, higher bandwidth, higher throughput - while decreasing the cost per bit continues to receive high ratings in our survey. This is logical because it’s the foundation of the 5G definition.”

However, the report warned that radio development most concerned operators, with 53 percent saying it would require the biggest push. This was followed by transport (24 percent) and management (14 percent).

The survey found extreme mobile broadband as the key use case, followed by gaming and ultra HD video. It predicted fixed-wireless access would be the first commercial product.

Téral added: “The bottom line is early 5G will be an extension of what we know best: broadband, whether in FWA or eMBB form.

“Don’t expect factory automation, tactile low-latency touch and steer, or autonomous driving to be ready on 5G anytime soon despite being touted as the chief 5G use cases.”