The report finds that amid a burst of launches in the second quarter, the deployment of 5G commercial services has become widespread, with projects in 17 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. This level of deployment was achieved just 10 months after the first commercial 5G launches, which IHS Markit | Technology traces back to August 2018. In contrast, 4G took about three years to begin deployment and four years to attain a large number of launches.
“Although the 4G/LTE standard was finalized in 2009, it wasn’t until 2012 that the pace of launches picked up, and not until the first quarter of 2013 that the total number of launches exceeded 100,” said Elias Aravantinos, senior research analyst, operator strategy, at IHS Markit | Technology. “In contrast, deployments of 5G began just weeks after the standard was completed, setting the stage for the rollout of the technology in locations across the globe in less than a year. We expect the number of 5G deployments to grow exponentially, with possibly hundreds of deployments per quarter during the period from 2020 to 2021, the time when we expect the peak of 5G deployment.”
A major factor driving the acceleration in the pace of launches is the maturity and experience of today’s wireless operators.
“During the transition from 3G to 4G, wireless operators learned valuable lessons that they are now applying to the 5G rollout,” Aravantinos said. “In terms of knowhow, the operators are ready and able to ramp up 5G services at a tremendous rate. Currently, the only factors preventing operators from starting even more 5G launches are money and the availability of phones and routers.”