Juniper Research: Japan & South Korea lead in 5G; NTT Docomo most promising 5G operator

Mobile carriers in Japan and South Korea are way ahead of wireless telcos in US and China in near future “5G deployments, according a new study from Juniper Research.  In its new report, 5G Market Strategies: Consumer & Enterprise Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2025, the research firm ranked NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, LG U+, KTand SoftBank as the world’s top five “most promising 5G network operators.”

Comment: What’s so interesting about Juniper’s ranking is that there is no standard for 5G radio access network/radio interface technologies and there won’t be till the end of 2020 when IMT 2020 will be completed.

Japan’s NTT Docomo topped the list as No. 1, overtaking the top spot from SKT, which was the leader in the same study last year.  SKT slipped into second place in 2018.

Following the top 5 players are AT&T and China Mobile, which were in the top five spots last year.

The research firm said it assessed over 50 global operators for the study and evaluated them based on results of 5G testing and trials, the extent and range of partnerships in the ecosystem and the level of technology innovation.

Japan, South Korea will account for 43% of 5G connections in 2019:

Japan and South Korea have established themselves as clear leaders in the development of 5G, says Juniper Research.  In a white paper, Operators Need to Secure 5G ROI ~ Here’s How, accompanying the study, the research firm predicts that 43% of global 5G connections in 2019 will be in Japan and South Korea.

Juniper Research also forecasts that first commercial 5G network launches are expected in 2019 and that the first networks with 5G services will be in the Far East, China and North America. These regions are expected to account for all of the predicted 1.05 million 5G active connections by the end of 2019.

However, the research cautioned that operators faced significant challenges both to deploy and most effectively configure 5G networks. It claimed that the need to deploy dense small cell networks, operators would need far greater access to sites to upgrade and share equipment. Furthermore, it urged operators to invest in virtualized networks to enable both more efficient traffic management and improve security in the network perimeter.

“Over the past 2 years, operators and network vendors have been actively trialing their 5G solutions, including antennas, core networks and beam forming. Since 3GPP standards have been finalized for 5G NRs (3GPP spec New Radios) many of these trials have focused on interoperability between devices and 5G networks,” the research firm said.

“As a result, leading operators are now aiming for a launch date in 2019. Indeed, many operators have begun rolling out antennas and backhaul infrastructure to provide a 5G service. Initial 5G coverage will be in urban areas.”

220M 5G broadband connections forecast by 2025:

The research firm also forecasts that 5G based fixed wireless broadband (there is no such thing as it’s not even a use case for IMT2020!) will be among the first services to launch over 5G (e.g. Verizon’s proprietary spec). Its suitability as a last mile solution will drive adoption to over 220 million connections by 2025.   However, the challenge for operators will be to demonstrate tangible benefits, to enterprises and consumers, over existing fiber-based solutions, warns Juniper Research author Sam Baker.

“Operators must carefully consider pricing strategies for 5G broadband,” Baker said.  “Pricing must address both the anticipated large traffic generated, whilst remaining price competitive against incumbent broadband suppliers.”
He also cautions that operators faced significant challenges both to deploy and most effectively configure 5G networks.

“With the need to deploy dense small cell networks, operators would need far greater access to sites to upgrade and share equipment.  Furthermore, we would urge operators to invest in virtualized networks to enable both more efficient traffic management and improve security in the network perimeter.”

Current Market Status:

5G, the next iteration of wireless cellular technologies, is currently reaching its final stages of development and commercialization by MNOs and industry stakeholders. Previous iterations of technologies (3G and 4G) were developed with a consumer-oriented focus. However, 5G will have further-reaching impacts, enabling a large number of use cases in IoT (Internet of Things) sectors such as healthcare, automotive industries, smart cities and mobile broadband. 5G networks will deliver high-bandwidth and low latency that support services such as UHD (Ultra High Definition) video streaming.

Juniper Research anticipates that the first commercial network launches will occur in 2019; the first networks to provide 5G services will be located in Far East & China and North America. Meanwhile, network operators in Europe have mostly adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, closely following the progress of operators in these 2 regions.

Over the past 2 years, operators and network vendors have been actively trialing their 5G solutions, including antennas, core networks and beam forming. Since 3GPP Release 15 specs have been finalized for 5G NRs (New Radios) many of these trials have focused on interoperability between devices and 5G networks.

As a result, leading operators are now aiming for a launch date in 2019. Indeed, many operators have begun rolling out antennas and backhaul infrastructure to provide a 5G service. Initial 5G coverage will be in urban areas.

Operator Monetization Strategies for 5G:

As noted in our previous edition, ARPU (Average Revenue per User) has been considered the benchmark metric for measuring operator success in terms of billed revenue. The new services discussed in the previous sections are expected to be heavily dependent on a favorable operator service model.

There is both a need and a desire to solve the ARPU problem that network operators are facing; carriers are considering different service scenarios that they could deploy to garner payback from their network licence investments. However, the challenge here is that as 5G expected to drive a number of connected devices, systems and sensor networks, is ARPU going to be the right factor for measuring 5G? For example, consider M2M verticals:

References:

https://www.juniperresearch.com/researchstore/telco-service-providers/5g-market-strategies/5g-market-strategies-consumer-enterprise-opport

https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/5g-market-strategies-tbc

https://www.juniperresearch.com/document-library/white-papers/operators-need-to-secure-5g-roi-~-here%E2%80%99s-how

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