5G (meaning ‘the fifth-generation mobile network’) offers a great many benefits over the four generations of mobile connectivity that have preceded it.
These benefits include 5G’s capacity to facilitate URLLC (ultra-reliable low latency communication), whose very high efficiency—not only enables a better experience for consumer device users—but also opens the door to a future infrastructure that is more accommodating of mission-critical systems, such as autonomous transport.
On the other hand, of course, with such a high potential of 5G must come multiple criteria on what constitutes a country’s success in rolling out and integrating the communication network.
Accordingly, the next section summarises the ways in which Omdia has reached its verdict, namely that Switzerland and the United Kingdom are currently part of the top six 5G-ready countries. (As per the below graph, South Korea and the U.S. fared even better than the UK, with the former two countries ranking at number one and number four respectively.)
What Makes a 5G-friendly Country According to Omdia?
As per the below graph, Omdia’s experts analysed 22 countries and ranked them based on their 5G spectrum, service launches, coverage, take-up, and ecosystem.
From lowest to highest, the countries analysed comprised Indonesia (low-ranking due to its limited 5G ecosystem) through to and including South Korea (which leads with a wide margin given its many 5G-friendly aspects—as can also be seen below).
A bar graph listing the 5G progress of 22 countries that, to highly varying degrees, have implemented the fifth-generation network. Switzerland and the UK are respectively just three and five positions away from the top-ranked country: South Korea. Image Credit: Omdia, via Real Wire.
The below bullet-points elaborate on Omdia’s criteria, along with a description of how the top-ranked South Korea fared in terms of such criteria.
Omdia’s 5G Marking Criteria
Spectrum—The numerical range of the country’s 5G radio-frequencies from user equipment, to cellular base stations, through to the data’s endpoint. It is measured in megahertz (MHz) and gigahertz (GHz).
- South Korea was found to have 2,680MHz across the 3.5 and 28GHz bands.
Service launches—The percentage of the country’s population that has launched 5G commercial services.
South Korea’s three major service providers (SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus) were found to have commercial offerings available to the mass market. The country’s MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) services have also been launched.
Network coverage—The percentage of the country’s population that is covered by the live 5G networks. (According to Real Wire’s report on Omdia’s ranking methodology, at the times when a specific account of South Korea’s network coverage could not be made, the analysts took an approximation based on available 5G deployment programs and coverage maps—see example pictured below.)
South Korea was reported to have ~90% network coverage.
5G take-up—The proportion of the country’s mobile services on 5G.
At the time of the analysis, South Korea was found to have well over 4.5 million 5G subscribers (and it has since gone on to far surpass the five million mark).
Ecosystem—While less measurable due to its subjectivity, Omdia’s definition of a 5G ecosystem encompasses many tell-tale signs of a promising 5G infrastructure: these include government policy programmes, sponsorship from end users, and so on.
South Korea is reported to have strong 5G support from its government alongside an ecosystem of 5G vendors (link goes to general, leading examples of 5G vendors).
An example of a 5G coverage map, which in this case focuses on the whole globe. Note the high concentration of European and South Korean 5G deployments (colour coded in purple). Image Credit: nPerf.com.
Taking Stock of Omdia’s Worldwide 5G Report
While South Korea enjoys a marked lead in Omdia’s analysis of the world’s 5G integration, the importance of Europe’s focus on a fifth-generation infrastructure has also been noted by Omdia. Again, this is particularly in regards to Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The report, which was based on data taken by expert analysts (see Omdia’s Latest Insights: 5G page for more fifth-generation information from such researchers) in late 2019, is a clear sign that the fifth generation is becoming ever more apparent worldwide—with 2020 marking the decade of 5G.
Said Omdia principal analyst Stephen Myers: “Europe is steadily gearing up for 5G deployment, but right now Switzerland and the UK are leading the way …
“We can expect to see a much larger number of commercial 5G launches in major European markets in the next twelve to eighteen months as more spectrum is released across the continent.”