Over 115 operators in 52 countries and territories have made significant investments in public 5G standalone networks, according to the latest data released by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).
This accounts for 21.4 percent of the 535 operators that are currently known to be involved in 5G licenses, trials, or deployments of any kind. Among these, at least 36 operators across 25 countries and territories have successfully launched or deployed public 5G Standalone (SA) networks, with two more having soft-launched their 5G SA networks.
5G SA networks can be deployed in a variety of scenarios: as an overlay for a public 5G non-SA 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 other organisation requiring its own private campus network.
The GSA’s recent report indicates that the momentum behind 5G SA network deployments is growing steadily. Furthermore, the number of announced 5G SA devices has seen an impressive surge, reaching 1,750 in July 2023. This represents a significant increase from the 686 devices reported at the end of 2021. As the 5G SA ecosystem continues to evolve, it now boasts the support of 86 announced modems and chipsets, with upcoming features expected to drive even wider adoption in the future.
Aside from the developments in public mobile networks, the GSA is also keeping a close eye on organizations that are testing, piloting, or deploying 5G SA technologies for private networks. As of May 2023, the GSA has compiled information on 1,148 organizations known to be deploying or granted a license for LTE or 5G private mobile networks.
Among these, 505 are already leveraging 5G networks for their private mobile networks, with 66 of them, or just over 13 percent, actively using 5G SA technology. The entities utilizing 5G SA for private networks include manufacturers, academic organizations, commercial research institutes, construction companies, communications and IT service providers, as well as rail and aviation organizations.
Commenting on the increasing trend of 5G SA deployments, Joe Barrett, President of the Global mobile Suppliers Association, emphasized the benefits of this technology. He stated, “With a totally new, cloud-based, virtualized, microservices-based core infrastructure, 5G SA brings benefits including lower latency, support for massive numbers of devices, and programmable systems enabling faster and more agile creation of services and network slices.”
The number of 5G SA devices as a percentage of all 5G devices announced has been steadily climbing. They accounted for 35.6 percent of 5G devices in December 2019, 49.7 percent in December 2020 and 54.6 percent in December 2021 and a large increase to 81.8 percent in December 2022. As of June 2023, they account for 85.8 percent. Software upgrades are often needed to enable 5G SA capability for existing 5G devices.
Phones make up over half (59.0 percent) of the announced 5G devices with stated 5G SA support (1,034 phones), followed by fixed wireless access CPE (246) and modules (220).
The progress in 5G SA adoption reflects the industry’s relentless efforts to push the boundaries of mobile technology, promising significant advancements in various sectors and unleashing the potential of next-generation connectivity worldwide. As more operators and organizations embrace 5G SA, the technology is set to revolutionize the way we live, work, and communicate in the years to come.