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GSA: 61 countries have live 5G networks

65 operators around the world are investing in Standalone 5G, GSA reports

Sixty-one countries around the world have 144 commercial 5G networks as of January 2021, with more on the way, according to the latest update from the Global mobile Suppliers Association.

More than 400 operators in 131 countries are investing in 5G networks, either through tests, pilots and planned deployments or actual ones, the GSA said. The world saw “steady growth” of 5G commercial network launches in 2020, the new report concludes — and 65 operators are either exploring or deploying Standalone 5G, indicating a rapid move toward end-to-end 5G networks.

The number of 5G networks globally is making fast inroads compared to LTE, which has 806 operators with commercial LTE networks globally.

In terms of specific network features that are of interest to carriers, the GSA report said that there is strong interest in 4×4 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology, which has been commercially deployed by 94 operators around the world. Higher order MIMO is popular as well, with 86 operators identified as investing in 8×8 MIMO and massive MIMO, with at least 39 having launched those technologies in-network. The 256 QAM modulation scheme is gathering steam as well, with 125 operators investing in the technology and 79 having launched it.

More than 400 operators are using LTE for fixed wireless access services, according to the GSA’s figures; this excludes operators who are offering broadband access via dongles/Mi-Fi devices.

“5G commercial networks are now live in more than 60 markets around the world. This statement alone demonstrates the worldwide demand for 5G services, and with hundreds of operators still investing in 5G, we can clearly see the direction that the industry is taking towards abundant, widespread 5G,” said GSA President Joe Barrett. “These figures are encouraging and as an industry, we can only be excited about how fast the ecosystem is making 5G available which could indicate a faster adoption rate.”

Among the GSA’s other findings:

-359 operators are investing in one or more LTE-Advanced technologies.

-210 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced Pro technologies.

-156 companies are exploring narrowband IoT, with 111 of them having already launches NB-IoT services.

-There are 51 deployed LTE-M networks globally.


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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