5G Standalone 2021 – Member Report

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5G Standalone 2021 – Member Report

Over time, most non-standalone 5G deployments are expected to be migrated to, or augmented by additional, 5G standalone networks. Based on a totally new, cloud-based, virtualised, microservices-based core infrastructure, some of the anticipated benefits of introducing 5G standalone technologies include faster connection times (lower latency), support for massive numbers of devices, programmable systems enabling faster and more agile creation of services and network slices, with improved support for SLA management within those slices, and the advent of voice-over new radio. Introduction of 5G standalone is expected to facilitate simplification of architectures, improve security and reduce costs. 5G standalone is expected to enable customisation and open up new service and revenue opportunities tailored to enterprise, industrial and government customers.

GSA is tracking the emergence of the 5G standalone system, including the availability of chipsets and devices for customers, plus the testing and then deployment of 5G standalone networks by public mobile network operators as well as private network operators. This paper is the latest in an ongoing series of papers summarising market trends, drawing on the data collected in GSA’s various databases covering chipsets, devices, spectrum and networks.

Investment in 5G standalone by public and private network operators

5G standalone networks can be deployed in a variety of scenarios: as an overlay for a public 5G non-standalone (NSA) network, as a greenfield 5G deployment for a public network operator without a separate LTE network, or as a private network deployment for an enterprise, utility, education, government or any other organisation requiring its own private campus network.

GSA has identified 68 operators in 38 countries worldwide that have been investing in public 5G SA networks (in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments). This compares with over 400 operators known to be investing in 5G licences, trials or deployments.

At least seven operators in five countries/territories are understood to have launched public 5G SA networks: China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom have all launched 5G standalone networks (China Telecom and China Unicom sharing some of the network construction). China Mobile has deployed or upgraded 400,000 base stations to support standalone services, whilst China Telecom announced service launch covering more than 300 cities. T-Mobile in the USA has launched 5G standalone nationwide using spectrum at 600 MHz, RAIN has launched 5G SA in parts of Cape Town in South Africa to support 5G FWA services and DIRECTV in Colombia has launched 5G SA for FWA in parts of Bogota. China Mobile Hong Kong announced the launch of 5G SA in late 2020. In Saudi Arabia, STC has announced that it has activated its 5G SA networks, although GSA is waiting for confirmation of availability of commercial services for customers before classifying its 5G SA networks as launched. Also, in Saudi Arabia, ITC has announced a soft launch of a 5G standalone network. In Australia, Telstra has deployed a 5G core network and has stated it is ready to launch its 5G SA network once a sufficient range of suitable devices is available in the Australian market. In addition to these three, various other operators are deploying 5G SA and numerous contracts for the deployment of 5G core systems (sometimes in multiple countries) have been announced.

5G Standalone 2021 – Member Report


5G Standalone 2021 - Member Report

© GSA 2021