South Korea’s antitrust regulator said it had imposed a total of 33.6 billion won ($25.06 million) in fines on three domestic mobile carriers for exaggerating their 5G network speeds. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said the three South Korean firms – SK Telecom Co Ltd, KT Corp, and LG Uplus Corp – had also unfairly advertised that they were the fastest relative to their competitors.
The authors concluded that instead of expecting that the new technology alone could create successful services, it would have been more effective to have collaborated with partners to build a broader 5G ecosystem.
Gap between 5G Vision Recommendations and customer expectations:
Although the usage scenarios and capability goals presented in the 5G Vision Recommendation are future goals to be achieved in the long term, misunderstandings have been created that can lead to excessive expectations of 5G performance and innovative services based on it from the beginning of commercialization. To prevent this misunderstanding from recurring in 6G, it is necessary to consider various usage scenarios of 6G, set achievable goals, and communicate accurately with the public. In particular, there were issues raised about the maximum transmission speed of 20Gbps, which was considered an icon of 5G key performance indicators. As 3G evolved into LTE, the radio access technology also evolved from WCDMA to OFDMA, and with the introduction of CA and multi-antenna technology, it became possible to use a much wider bandwidth than 3G. This can be seen as a ‘revolutionary’ improvement. On the other hand, 5G is considered as an ‘evolutionary’ improvement that supplements the performance of LTE based on the same radio access technology, CA, and multi-antenna system technology. Due to this, it was difficult to implement the increase in transmission speed shown in LTE in 5G at once. Moreover, the difference in technology perception was further revealed in the initial stage of 5G commercialization. Early commercialization was promoted for 5G, however, 5G required more base station compared to LTE to build a nationwide network due to frequency characteristics, requiring more efforts in terms of cost and time.
SK Telecom has made significant efforts to expedite 5G nationwide rollout, but customers wanted the same level of coverage as LTE in a brief period.
Ericsson and MediaTek have set a new 5G uplink speed record of 440 Mbps in low-band and mid-band spectrum using Uplink Carrier Aggregation. That uplink speed was achieved in an Ericsson lab. The test was performed with Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) Compute Baseband 6648 and a mobile device using a MediaTek Dimensity 9200 flagship 5G smartphone chipset.
More precisely, the combination used was 50MHz FDD n1 and 100MHz TDD n77. By aggregating these two bands, communications service providers can considerably increase their uplink speeds, resulting in better network performance and user experience. The fast uplink speed brings better, smoother experiences for the likes of video conference users, streamers, and their audience with more frames per second and higher image resolution. The 440 Mbps 5G upload speed achieved in the lab compares to an average of 26.78 Mbps outdoors and 22.98 Mbps indoors, as per a Cellsmart survey.
Sibel Tombaz, Head of Product Line 5G RAN, Ericsson, said: ”Super-fast uplink speeds make a big difference in the user experience. From lag-free live streaming, video conferencing and AR/VR apps, to more immersive gaming and extended reality (XR) technologies. The 440 Mbps upload speed achieved by Ericsson and MediaTek will help make that difference. We are also continuously designing innovative solutions for optimizing 5G networks so our customers can make the best use of their spectrum assets.”
Service providers are seeking innovative ways of boosting capacity while using existing spectrum efficiently to meet growing demands for wireless data and applications. This is where carrier aggregation comes in, optimizing the service provider’s spectrum assets to bring to users better coverage, increased capacity, and higher data speeds.
HC Hwang, General Manager of Wireless Communication System and Partnership at MediaTek, said: “The successful result of combining Ericsson’s state-of-the-art 5G Baseband and MediaTek’s flagship smartphone chip has achieved another 5G industry milestone, and paves the way for superior mobile experiences to benefit users every day.” Uplink speed is becoming more crucial with the expected uptake of
gaming, XR, and video-based apps. For example, as AR devices gain popularity with larger augmentation objects, rendering becomes more demanding. This increases the demand on networks to deliver higher throughput and lower latency.
Uplink speed is becoming more crucial with the expected uptake of gaming, XR, and video-based apps. For example, as AR devices gain popularity with larger augmentation objects, rendering becomes more demanding. This increases the demand on networks to deliver higher throughput and lower latency.
Earlier this year, AT&T boasted that it had completed what was believed to be the first 5G standalone (SA) uplink 2-carrier aggregation data connection in the U.S.
The connection was made at its Redmond, Washington, lab, where they achieved upload speeds of over 120 Mbps with a combination of 850 MHz and 3.7 GHz spectrum.
In May, T-Mobile reported reaching uplink speeds over 200 Mbps in a 5G data call using uplink CA; in that case, they used T-Mobile’s live commercial 5G SA network as opposed to a lab environment. T-Mobile used 2.5 GHz and 1.9 GHz bands.
UK market research firm Cellsmart finds that 5G network performance has greatly improved over the last 12 months. Real-world testing shows new peak download and upload speeds on 5G
networks. The industry is on the cusp of the gigabit era in cellular networks with these speeds moving from the lab to field in 2023.
Cellsmart survey results revealed the global average outdoor download speed for 5G is 210.05 Mbps, compared to 182.46 Mbps indoors. 5G download speeds show a significant improvement over 4G with an increase of 486.57% (outdoor) and 694% (indoor).
Average upload speeds continue to lag behind download speeds with almost no improvement from 4G to 5G in indoor tests. Both 4G and 5G upload speeds remain significantly lower than download speeds. 5G upload speeds as a percentage of download speeds is 17%, compared to 74% on 4G. Download and upload speeds remain hyper-asymmetrical in 5G, which needs to improve to support enterprise use cases.
The survey results also revealed how latency is negatively impacted in indoor settings, with average 5G latency being 14.58ms lower indoors than outdoors. Tests run in Norway and the Philippines had outdoor speed tests that showed latency of less than 10ms, followed closely by US (10ms), China (11ms) and France (11ms). Average latency indoors was 15.32 higher on 4G than outdoors.
At the city level, Norway’s Oslo leads the way, while Spain’s Cerdanyola del Vallès and Bilbao come in second and third, while fourth placed Munich also recorded a 5G download speed in excess of 1 Gbps.
“Europe is ready for fixed wireless access,” declared Toby Forman, CEO at SmartCIC, owner of Cellsmart.
“Our test results show that 5G is beginning to mature into a justifiable investment that is ready to serve as an alternative to wired broadband and LEOs in multiple countries throughout Europe,” Forman said. “With performance rates that rival those of broadband and LEO, cellular should be considered when connecting enterprise locations. It’s a viable option.”
Cellsmart earlier this month reported that 5G upload speeds are insufficient for industrial applications.
As Cellsmart’s mission is, in its own words, “liberating enterprise from the constraints of fixed line connectivity,” it clearly has a vested interest in the results of its own study. It helps enterprises hook up to Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions, essentially. However, the data still makes interesting reading against a backdrop of mobile network operators spending billions on the rollout of 5G networks.
In a new blog post, Ookla asseses The State of Worldwide 5G in 2022. The market research firm examined Speedtest Intelligence® data from Q3 2022 Speedtest® results to see how 5G performance has changed since last year, where download speeds are the fastest at the country level, and how satellite technologies are offering additional options to connect. Ookla also looked at countries that don’t yet have 5G to understand where consumers are seeing improvements in 4G LTE access.
Editor’s Note: for some unknown reason, China is not included in Ookla’s report
- 5G speeds were stable at the global level with:
a] Median global 5G download speed of 168.27 Mbps in Q3 2022 as compared to 166.13 Mbps in Q3 2021
b] Median upload speed over 5G slowed slightly to 18.71 Mbps (from 21.08 Mbps) during the same period
- Ookla® 5G Map™: 127,509 5G deployments in 128 countries as of November 30, 2022, compared to 85,602 in 112 countries the year prior
- South Korea and the United Arab Emirates led countries for 5G speeds
- 5G Availability points to on-going challenges
5G Availability measures the proportion of Speedtest users with 5G-capable handsets, who spend a majority of time connected to 5G networks. It’s therefore a function of 5G coverage and adoption. We see wide disparity in 5G Availability among markets worldwide, with for example the U.S. recording 54.3% in Q3 2022, well ahead of markets such as Sweden and the U.A.E., with 8.6% and 8.3% respectively.
Critical levers for mobile operators to increase 5G Availability include:
- Increasing 5G coverage by deploying additional base stations
- Obtaining access to, or refarming, sub-GHz spectrum, to help broaden 5G coverage, as sub-GHz spectrum has superior propagation properties than that of higher frequency spectrum bands.
- Encouraging 5G adoption among users with 5G-capable handsets.
Speedtest Intelligence points to 5G adoption challenges in some markets, with 5G Availability dropping in Bulgaria, South Korea, the Netherlands, and the U.A.E. As more users acquire 5G-capable devices, operators need to balance their pricing models to ensure users have sufficient incentives to purchase a 5G tariff.
Countries where 5G is not readily available:
Speedtest Intelligence showed 29 countries in the world where more than 20% of samples were from 2G and 3G connections (combined) during Q3 2022 and met our statistical threshold to be included (down from 70 in Q3 2021). These are mostly countries where 5G is still aspirational for a majority of the population, which is being left behind technologically, having to rely on decades-old technologies that are only sufficient for basic voice and texting, social media, and navigation apps. We’re glad to see so many countries fall off this list, but having so many consumers on 2G and 3G also prevents mobile operators from making 4G and 5G networks more efficient. If operators and regulators are able to work to upgrade their users to 4G and higher, everyone will benefit.
Countries That Still Rely Heavily on 2G and 3G Connections
Speedtest IntelligenceⓇ | Q3 2021
|2G & 3G Samples
|Central African Republic
|Saint Kitts and Nevis
Ookla was glad to see performance levels normalize as 5G expands to more and more countries and access improves and we are optimistic that 2023 will bring further improvements. Keep track of how well your country is performing on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index™ or track performance in thousands of cities worldwide with the Speedtest Performance Directory™.
Finnish network operator DNA [1.] said it achieved the highest average 5G download speed in seven out of eight cities measured in Omnitele’s latest benchmark of local mobile networks. Speeds were compared in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku, Jyvaskyla, Lahti and Pori. All of those cities showed a generally high level of performance due to the expansion of DNA’s 5G network.
Note 1. DNA Oyj (DNA Plc) is a Finnish telecommunications group that provides voice, data and TV services. In December 2020, it had over 3.5 million subscription customers.
DNA achieved average scores over 30 percent faster than its nearest competitor in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, and its lead was even greater in Lahti, at over 50 percent faster.
Across all the measurements, DNA had the highest speed, at 588 Mbps, followed by Elisa with 460 Mbps and Telia at 413 Mbps. The research was conducted in June and July 2022.
DNA says, “With the DNA Koti 5G connection, you get guaranteed fast internet and congestion-free access to your Nettikaista turnkey installation. Our installer brings all the equipment with him, installs the external receiver and ensures that the 5G internet works.”
DNA’s 5G network already covers half of Finns – and the network is expanding to new areas all the time. In a study conducted by Omnitele, the average download speed of DNA’s mobile network was the highest in the cities : Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Lahti, Pori, Turku and Tampere.
Among the 15 markets with 5G improvements ranked by Opensignal, South Korea’s 432.7 Mbps was first, followed by Malaysia’s 382.2 Mbps and Sweden’s 333.9 Mbps (see table below). The Philippines maintains the second lowest 5G speed of 138.6 Mbps, only ahead of Thailand’s 122.7 Mbps. Malaysia led all markets on the ratio of download speed improvement with its 5G about 26 times faster than its 4G, but Opensignal said there are only a few subscribers in the country and 5G speed could decline when adoption increases.
The Philippines has recorded the highest improvement in 5G video experience in the world as telco giants continue to invest heavily in network expansion to enhance internet speed. Opensignal said the country topped all markets worldwide in terms of improvement in mobile video streaming experience using 5G.
“The Philippines continues to see a tremendous uplift with the shift from 4G to 5G by topping the 5G Video Experience uplift category with a 79 percent increase in its score,” Opensignal said.
The Philippines bested the 73 percent boost in 5G video experience in Malaysia, 64 percent in Chile and Thailand and 61 percent in Indonesia.
5G usage for video would continue to increase due to the superiority of its streaming quality when compared to 4G. “With Opensignal’s new video streaming tests including higher resolutions that are more suited to a 5G world, we see greater difference in video streaming experience using 5G compared with 4G. The uplift with 5G is now considerably higher,” Opensignal said.
According to Opensignal, the Philippines ranked third on the difference in internet speed between the two technologies, with 5G here nearly nine times faster than 4G. “Excluding Malaysia, Chile continues to top the 5G download speed uplift table, followed by the Philippines with the same position as in the last benchmark comparison,” Opensignal said.
For the year, Smart’s parent PLDT Inc. is spending P85 billion for its capital expenditures to be used for the firm’s increased commitment in 5G roll out.
Meanwhile, Globe installed 380 new 5G sites in the first quarter as part of efforts to hook up as many users to 5G as possible.
Research conducted by CELLSMART, a division of French managed services provider SmartCIC, has found that 5G upload speeds are in many cases insufficient to support data transfer for enterprise applications. The Global Cellular Performance Survey was based on independent field tests conducted by 2,536 telecoms network engineers in 51 countries to capture network performance data and then analyzed by the CELLSMART team.
The CELLSMART Global Cellular Performance Survey collects data from telecoms network engineers working in the field to provide an up-to-date snap shot of actual performance across cellular technologies. It is using the data it collects in its planning, network selection and service development and monitoring for fixed wireless enterprise customers.
Top 5 Metro Markets – 5G Average Download Speed
• Cannes (France)
• Munich (Germany)
• Nashville (US)
• Oslo (Norway)
“The research shows how MNOs have prioritized 5G download speeds in their initial rollouts and now there’s an opportunity to focus on enterprise demand for rapid upstream data transfer. 5G networks are showing upload speeds that are 13% of their download speeds while 4G has a balanced download/upload symmetry with 36%. Based on the research sample, we saw 5G delivering higher latency than 4G in some cases. This may be due to a number of the 5G tests being run on low-band networks. Where results have been taken in areas with mmWave, there are dramatically different results including downloads in excess of 800mbps, uploads in excess of 250mbps and latencies of sub 10ms,” said Toby Forman, CEO at SmartCIC.
For capturing network performance data, speed tests were run by 2,536 telecoms network engineers across 51 countries in 331 unique locations globally. Each engineer conducted the tests independently in the field and submitted result anonymously between March 25, 2022 and May 6, 2022. Data samples were collected from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas and Europe. The CELLSMART team did the data analysis.
Top 5 Mobile Network Operators – Maximum Download Speeds (All Technologies)
• du (UAE)
• Telia (Sweden)
• Deutsche Telekom (Germany)
• EE (UK)
• Singtel (Singapore)
However, upload speeds were on average only 31.27 Mbps – just 55% better than the 4G global average.
“We went out to our global network of 25,000 engineers and asked them to log network performance wherever they were operating. Over time, as we see more results added to our database and we’ll be able to provide an accurate and evolving snapshot of how cellular technologies are performing in the field. This initial cut of data is just the start of the process. As we begin to see greater density of results globally we will those into insights for our customers and the broader market,” said Forman. “We did this because this information simply didn’t exist on a global scale and we believe the market needs intelligent cellular solutions,” he added.