Even though no 5G standard has been agreed, 25 operators are already trialling what they regard to be the next generation of mobile networks.
New data compiled by Viavi Solutions ahead of Mobile World Congress 2017 has revealed that 25 mobile operators are lab-testing 5G.
Among these, 12 have progressed to field-testing while an additional four have announced their plans for 5G.
Five operators have reached data speeds of 35Gbps or more in 5G trials. To date, Etisalat has demonstrated the highest data speed of 36 Gbps, with Ooredoo conducting tests at 35.46Gbps.
Optus, M1 and StarHub have reached 35Gbps, with all other operators conducting 5G trials reporting data transmission speeds of at least 2Gbps.
Operators are testing across a wide range of bandwidths, ranging from sub-3GHz to 86GHz.
Of the operators that have disclosed their test spectrum, the most commonly trialled wavelength is 28GHz, with eight operators currently using it. 15GHz is being used in trials by seven operators.
To 5G or not 5G
Viavi Solutions found that five major network equipment providers are currently involved in trials: Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.
While some operators are using just one network equipment provider in their trials, many are using multiple vendors throughout the various stages.
KT Corporation (formerly Korea Telecom) is including all five network equipment providers in its trials.
“The pace of 5G development is already beyond the expectations of many observers,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO of Viavi Solutions.
“Now, as the technical delivery of data is starting to coalesce, it is time to think ahead to how future 5G networks can manage the disparate requirements of high data rates, very low latency applications and large-scale IoT services, while maintaining quality of service.
“This underlines the importance of ‘network slicing’, whereby multiple cloud-based functions within a virtualised network can be automated and programmed to meet different use cases and requirements.
“Service providers and their partners will require solutions that are virtualised from one end of the network to the other, and have automated and correlated intelligence across each network slice for monitoring, optimisation and service assurance,” Yamany said.