GSA is tracking the emergence of the 5G SA core network, including the availability of chipsets and devices for customers, plus the testing and deployment of 5G SA networks by public mobile network operators as well as private network operators.
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 organization requiring its own private campus network.
GSA has identified 115 operators in 52 countries and territories worldwide that have been investing (?) in public 5G SA networks in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments (see Figure 1.). This equates to 21.4% of the 535 operators known to be investing in 5G licenses, trials or deployments of any type.
At least 36 operators in 25 countries and territories are now understood to have launched or deployed public 5G SA networks, two of which have only soft-launched their 5G SA networks.
NOTE: Incredibly, that’s a DECREASE from GSA’s June 5G SA report which stated “GSA has catalogued 41 operators as having deployed or launched 5G standalone (SA) in public networks.”
Also, 19 cellular network operators have been catalogued as deploying or piloting 5G SA for public networks, and 29 as planning to deploy or evaluating, testing or trialing the technology.
Several organizations are testing, piloting or deploying 5G SA technologies for private networks. As of May 2024, 66 (just over 13% of total cellular private networks) organizations are known to be working with 5G SA core networks. These organizations include manufacturers, academic institutions, commercial research institutes, construction, communications and IT services, rail and aviation industries.
The number of 5G SA devices as a percentage of all 5G devices announced has been steadily increasing. They accounted for 35.6% of 5G devices in December 2019, 49.7% in December 2020 and 54.6% in December 2021 and a large increase to 81.8% in December 2022. As of June 2023, they account for 85.8%.
Software upgrades are almost always needed to enable 5G SA capability for existing 5G devices. There is a range of form factors to cater for different users, including modules for equipment manufacturers and vendors; customer-premises equipment (CPE), routers and gateways for enterprise or industrial customers or their systems integrators; CPE for home and business broadband; phones; and battery-operated hot spots for portable services.
Smartphones make up over half (59.0%) of the announced 5G devices with stated 5G SA support (1,034 phones), followed by fixed wireless access CPE (246) and modules (220).
Spectrum Support in 5G SA Devices:
Selected sub-6 GHz frequencies are increasingly well supported in 5G SA devices. The pattern of most-supported bands in sub-6 GHz 5G SA devices largely matches the pattern for most-supported bands across all 5G devices, with C-band, 2.6 GHz, 2 GHz, 1.8 GHz and 700 MHz.
Sub-6 GHz support by band, announced 5G SA devices, most-supported bands by most devices. Support for millimeter wave is not yet common.
Chipsets are being developed to support this capability — GSA has currently only catalogued eight chipsets specifically supporting 5G SA in millimeter-wave spectrum (eight mobile processors and platforms). 320 393 397 421 449 519 739 741 743 817 846 979 1,025 1,115 1,183 1,257 1,309 1,444 1,465 n48 n25 n66 n71 n12 n2 n20 n40 n79 n38 n7 n8 n5 n3 n28 n77 n1 n41 n78 We can expect support for spectrum bands above 6 GHz to increase in the future, as these bands are being promoted as an option for deployment of private 5G networks by regulators in various countries, as well as being promoted as capacity bands for high-traffic locations in public networks.
The market is seeing the emergence of a strong 5G SA ecosystem with chipsets, devices of many types and users of public as well as private networks. We can expect to see the market go from strength to strength.
–>This author opines the 5G SA market is going from nowhere to no place!
As it does, GSA will continue to track its evolution and will be looking out for important new trends as they emerge.
Topics likely to become more important in the coming year in this context include 5G carrier aggregation in SA networks, ultrareliable low-latency communications (can’t be accomplished till 3GPP Release 16 URLLC in the RAN spec has been completed and performance tested) capabilities to support machine-to-machine connections in 5G SA systems, increasing support for millimeter-wave connections, network slicing in 5G networks and the introduction of VoNR in 5G SA networks.