New research reveals the five most promising 5G operators

29 Aug 2018

SoftBank storefront in Tokyo. Image: Ned Snowman/Shutterstock

With the first 5G networks due to launch in 2019, which operators are leading the pack?

The 3GPP 5G standards were only approved this June, but firms are moving fast to be the first to implement the new iteration.

With such a vast amount of firms competing, it can be difficult to get a view of who is progressing furthest. On that note, Juniper Research has analysed more than 50 operators for a new white paper.

5G leaders

Through this analysis, Juniper has come up with a list of the top five operators leading the way for 5G implementation, from first to last.


Founded in 1991, NTT DoCoMo offers mobile telecoms services throughout Japan, including data, voice and cloud email, among others.

SK Telecom

South Korean telecoms service SK Telecom is headquartered in Seoul and has more than 20,000 employees.

LG Uplus

LG Uplus is owned by South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate, LG. It was formerly known as LG Telecom.

KT Telecom

South Korea’s largest telephone company, KT Telecom was founded in 1981 and was the first to introduce the iPhone to the market in the country.


A major Japanese multinational founded in 1981, SoftBank is the sixth-largest telephone operating company in the world.

What should operators consider?

According to the research, operators still face serious challenges both in the deployment and configuration of 5G networks. 5G broadband is likely to be among the first services launched over 5G.

More than 200m connections are expected by 2025 but it will be tough for operators to demonstrate tangible benefits to enterprises and consumers, particularly over existing fibre solutions.

Research author Sam Barker noted: “Operators must carefully consider pricing strategies for 5G broadband. Pricing must address both the anticipated large traffic generated, whilst remaining price-competitive against incumbent broadband suppliers.”

Among the challenges ahead is the need to deploy dense small-cell networks – this requires far greater access to sites for operators to upgrade and share equipment. Investment in virtualised networks to enable more efficient traffic management and boost security is also crucial.

SoftBank storefront in Tokyo. Image: Ned Snowman/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects