5G Standalone: November Executive Summary.

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5G Standalone: November Executive Summary.

Global Status Update

As of end of October 2021

Operators are increasingly experimenting with and deploying 5G standalone (SA) networks. With a totally new, cloud-based, virtualised, microservices-based core infrastructure, some of the anticipated benefits of introducing 5G SA 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 (VoNR). Introduction of 5G SA is expected to facilitate simplification of architectures, improve security and reduce costs. 5G SA 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 SA system, including the availability of chipsets and devices for customers, plus the testing and then deployment of 5G SA 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 SA by public and private network operators

5G SA networks can be deployed in a variety of scenarios: as an overlay for a public 5G non-SA (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 94 operators in 48 countries/territories worldwide that have been investing in public 5G SA networks (in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments). This equates to just over 20% of the 469 operators known to be investing in 5G licences, trials or deployments of any type.

At least 19 operators in 15 countries/territories are now understood to have launched public 5G SA networks. A further four have deployed 5G SA technology but not yet launched services, or have only soft-launched them. In addition to these, at least 25 have been catalogued as deploying or piloting 5G standalone, 28 as planning to deploy the technology and 18 as being involved in evaluations/tests/trials.

A recent survey of European and North American mobile operators by Heavy Reading and EXFO (published October 2021) revealed that 49% of them plan to deploy 5G SA within a year and that a further 39% plan to deploy 5G SA within one or two years. Meanwhile, vendors are reporting the deployment of 5G core SA networks that are not announced publicly. So the active deployments and launches catalogued by GSA so far will be the first of many.

In addition to the investment in 5G SA for public mobile networks mentioned above, a number of organisations are testing, piloting or deploying 5G SA technologies for private networks. GSA has developed a new database tracking private mobile network licences, trials and deployments. It has collated information about 626 organisations known to be deploying LTE or 5G private mobile networks, or known to have been granted a licence suitable for the deployment of a private LTE or 5G network so far. Of those, 151 are known to be using 5G networks (excluding those labelled as 5G-ready) for private mobile network pilots or deployments. Of those, 27 (nearly 18% of them) are known to be working with 5G SA already, including manufacturers, academic organisations, commercial research institutes, construction, communications/IT services, rail and aviation organisations.

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5G Standalone: November Executive Summary.

© GSA 2021

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5G Standalone: November Executive Summary.