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Europe will ‘trail’ the US and Asia in 5G connection race

EUROPE WILL LIKELY lag behind the US and Asia in the development and adoption of 5G technology, according to a new report.

Analyst outfit CCS Insight claimed it’s “likely” that US telecom firms will begin rolling out the first commercial 5G services this year, closely following by telcos in China.

Meanwhile, the report claims that Europe will adopt the technology more slowly.

CSS Insights said that this technology is being accelerated thanks to the continued global agreement of “standards, trials, deployment of chipsets and infrastructure, and operator commitments to the technology”.

It said that one of the more recent milestones for the technology was the “ratification of the non-standalone specifications for 5G in late 2017“, which will enable operators to launch commercial services.

But the company noted that most of the operators making use of these new specifications are based in the US and Asia, not Europe.

“In fact, the fierce race to be first could see initial commercial 5G services appear as soon as late 2018 in the US, albeit on a limited scale,” suggested the analyst group.

Over the past six months, 5G technology has gained “strong industry momentum” globally. The report forecasts that 5G connections will top 280 million in 2021, but will reach 2.7 billion in 2025.

Kester Mann, principal analyst at CCS Insight, said firms are not shying away from the challenges posed by 5G technology. Instead, they are diving straight into the deep-end.

“The industry might be struggling to establish the business models for investment in 5G, but this isn’t stopping leading operators battling for bragging rights to launch the first networks,” said Mann.

“Competitive forces and the need for capacity are the leading drivers of early deployment, although we caution this could set unrealistic expectations for initial network capability”.

Related: EE and Huawei’s 5G network trial delivers 2.8Gbps download speeds

Most of the early launches will happen in South Korea, Japan and the US, but CSS Insight believes that China will “quickly” overtake these countries, accounting for up to one billion of the world’s 5G connections by 2025.

Europe, though, will only pass 100 million connections in 2023 – despite a growing appetite from companies like Telecom Italia and the recent release of wireless spectrum specifically for 5G in the UK.

Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insights, added: “We see the first 5G smartphones emerging in 2019, but these will be relatively few in number. The real ramp-up will come in 2021, when over 350 million 5G handsets will be sold worldwide.” µ

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