Announcements of commercial launches
The number of live 5G networks has increased significantly in Europe and outside Europe since the beginning of 2019. Nevertheless, several European Member States will not have 5G services in 2020.
At the end of September 2020, 5G commercial services had been deployed in 18 (EU-27 plus the UK) countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
EU-27 plus the UK countries with 5G commercial service – September 2020
Source: IDATE Digiworld
T-Mobile announced in March 2019 commercial launch with friendly customers using the 3.6 GHz band. The operator announced it had deployed 25 base stations for this launch in rural areas. The terminals used are 5G routers, which allow connection in WiFi mode for households. The first 5G smartphones were available at the end of 2019.
The operator announced in July 2020 that its 5G network was active at 600 locations across the country, covering 25% of Austrian homes and businesses. By the end of 2020, the total coverage will increase to 1,200 locations, representing almost 40% of homes and businesses. The company noted that it is implementing Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology.
T-Mobile Austria received usage rights in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band on 7th March 2019, which provided the company the foundation to expand the 5G communications standard throughout Austria. In this auction, T-Mobile Austria acquired 110 MHz of spectrum throughout the country (11 packages of 10 MHz each in 12 regions), for a total price of EUR 57 million.
In September 2020, T-Mobile Austria paid 87 million EUR for 2×20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum, 20 MHz in the 1500 MHz band and 2×15 MHz of 2100 MHz spectrum in the second 5G auction in the country.
Three Austria announced a 5G pre-launch after activating its 5G network in the city of Linz in June 2019. The operator activated, in September 2019, more 5G base stations in Worgl and Vienna and started offering 5G tariffs and devices. In December 2019, the company revealed that around 100 5G locations were going to be live across the country by the end of 2019.
The company secured 5G-suitable 3.5GHz spectrum covering all twelve designated regions of Austria for 51.9 million EUR at auction in March 2019.
A1 launched its 5G network in January 2020 using the 3.5 GHz band. The “A1 5Giganetwork” covers 350 locations across 129 municipalities in Austria spanning 54,000 square kilometres. The operator paid 64.3 million EUR for nationwide 5G spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range in March 2019.
Proximus launched Belgium’s first commercial 5G services on April 1, 2020, using spectrum in its existing spectrum holdings (2.1 GHz), deployed on existing antennas and within current EMF norms. Coverage was available in about 30 cities and towns. In June 2020, the operator expanded the network coverage to an additional 26 locations in Flanders, including central areas of Ghent and Antwerp. The network was not deployed in the Brussels region due to its stricter radiation standards. Customers can access the network with the “Mobilus 5G unlimited” tariff priced 49.99 EUR and can expect speeds of up to 30% faster than LTE-A.
In September 2020, Vivacom launched the first Bulgaria 5G network in all 27 district centers of the country. The operator is giving free of charge 30 GB per month to its customers to test the new technology until the end of 2020. Vivacom is using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) in the 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands.
O2 (Telefonica) Czech Republic launched 5G services in July 2020 in selected parts of Prague. The network is also available in the city of Koline.
Vodafone Czech Republic announced in early October 2020 the launch of its NSA 5G network in the cities of Prague, Brno, Usti nad Labem, Jesenik, and Karlovy Vary, using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology.
Operators count on the coming 5G auction for a truly nationwide expansion of the network.
TDC launched commercial 5G services in the 3.5GHz band in Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus and Helsingor on 7 September 2020. The company claims that almost 3,000 base stations have been equipped with Ericsson’s 5G technology throughout Denmark, with plans to increase the footprint to 80% by end of September 2020 and by 90% by year-end 2020.
The company is offering two 5G plans: the “Professional” with 30 GB of data allowance costs 399 DKK (54 EUR) per month and the “Premium” with 100 GB of data allowance costs 499 DKK (67 EUR) per month. These two 5G price plans complete 4G cheaper plans with lower data allowances (3 GB at 199 DKK/month or 27 EUR and 10 GB at 299 DKK/month or 40 EUR).
Elisa reported its 5G network carried a 5G phone call on 27 June 2018 between the Estonian minister of Economy and her Finnish colleague in Finland. Tests performed showed data speeds of 2.2 Gbps. That said, the first 5G licences were made available in the 3.6 GHz band frequencies in autumn 2018. The operator started offering 5G mobile devices and plans in June 2019 in Tampere, Jyväskylä, Turku and Helsinki. At the moment their 5G subscriptions are being offered with unlimited data (up to 30 GB per month in the EU) plans including data speed options of 1 Gbps at 49.90 EUR per month, 600 Mbps for 36.90 EUR per month and 300 Mbps for 31.90 EUR per month.
Elisa revealed in June 2020, that its 5G network had been switched on in a total of 30 cities and towns across the country, with more than one million people within its service area.
Telia Finland launched 5G services in seven cities at the end of 2019. The operator also promotes Fixed Wireless Access for homes, besides normal mobile subscriptions. For consumers, their 5G mobile service offering includes subscriptions with unlimited monthly data (up to 25 GB within the EU) and speeds ranging from 300 Mbps (31.90 EUR per month) to 1 Gbps (49.90 EUR per month).
DNA started selling mobile 5G subscriptions in January 2020, having previously launched its ‘DNA Home 5G’ offering in December 2019. In summer 2020, they were going to provide 5G services in more than 20 Finnish cities and towns, with data speeds and prices of their mobile subscriptions ranging from 400 to 1000 Mbps and from 34.90 to 44.90 EUR per month, all with unlimited data usage in Finland and up to 27 GB within the EU.
Deutsche Telekom switched on its 5G network on September 5th, 2019, in five German cities: Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, and Munich. Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Leipzig followed.
In July 2020, the operator announced that its 5G network covered 40 million Germans, representing half of the population. Services are available in over 3,000 towns and municipalities, after a further 18,000 antennas were upgraded for 5G and integrated into the live network. The company announced that it plans to cover two thirds of the population by the end of 2020.
Telekom uses spectrum in the 2100 MHz band to provide customers with 5G coverage in less densely populated areas, while the 3600 MHz band is being used in large cities. Dynamic Spectrum Sharing is also being deployed.
Customers can choose four 5G plans: the MagentaMobil S with 6 Go at 39.95 EUR/month, the MagentaMobil M with 12 Go at 49.95 EUR per month, the MagentaMobil L with 24 Go at 59.95 EUR/month, and the MagentaMobil XL with unlimited data at 84.95 EUR per month. The new plans are all 5G-enabled.
Vodafone Germany started its 5G network in July 2019. At launch, customers were able to access 5G plans at 24.99 euros per month for 4 Go, 29.99 EUR per month for 12 Go and 34.99 EUR per month for 24 Go. Vodafone offered two 5G-suitable smartphones: The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G. The Gigacube 5G home router from Huawei was also available.
Vodafone announced plans to roll out 5G network in 25 cities, 25 municipalities and 10 industrial parks across Germany by the end of 2019. The operator announced it planned to have 120 5G base stations by the end of March 2020, with a focus on Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Bremen, Leipzig and Dresden.
In July 2020, Vodafone Germany announced that its 5G service is currently available in 160 urban and rural locations across the country via a network of 500 antennas. The firm uses frequencies in both the 3.5 GHz and the 700 MHz bands to provide 5G to customers, and it plans to increase coverage to ten million people by the end of 2020, rising to 20 million by the end of 2021.
Telefonica became Germany’s third mobile network operator to introduce 5G services on 3 October 2020, when the network was activated in ten cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Essen and Potsdam. Telefonica’s 5G network in the 3.6 GHz band will have grown from 450 antennas to over 6,000 to cover more than 30% of the population by the end of 2021. The operator expects to reach around 50% by the end of 2022 and the whole country by 2025. In rural areas, the company will use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing.
In October 2019, Vodafone Hungary launched a commercial 5G service limited to Budapest, using its existing 3500 MHz spectrum and ahead of Hungary’s March 2020 licence auction where it won additional 3500 MHz frequencies plus a 700 MHz licence.
In late June 2020, the operator announced plans to roll-out 5G services in the following cities: Miskolc, Gyor, Debrecen, Szekesfehervar, Pecs, Szeged and Eger, focusing on the busiest parts of inner cities and around universities. The rollouts will increase the number of Vodafone 5G base stations to about 300.
The operator launched commercial 5G mobile network services in April 2020 in partnership with Ericsson. The network was available in limited areas of Budapest and Puskas Ferenc stadium. By September 2020, the network was available in parts 18 cities and towns including Zalaegerszeg, Szombathely, Debrecen, Szeged and Kecskemét.
Vodafone Ireland launched 5G services in August 2019 in selected areas of five Irish cities, including Dublin and Waterford. Two 5G-ready smartphones were available to users in August and September 2019 – the Huawei Mate 20X 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
In early December 2019, Eir launched its 5G service in 10 towns and cities. By January 2020, 5G services were available in 20 towns and cities. In September 2020, eir confirmed that its 5G network covered 29% of the population, with infrastructure now available in 21 towns and cities.
In late September 2020, Three Ireland started offering 5G commercial services with Ericsson’s equipment in a total of 315 sites across Ireland, reaching 35% of population coverage. The operator expects to add a further 500 5G-capable sites in 2021. Ericsson announced that the 5G network is powered by the vendor’s fully virtualised 5G Core and the latest products and solutions from its Radio System portfolio.
Vodafone Italy launched its commercial 5G services in 5 cities on 6 June 2019 (Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna and Naples). In Turin, the Vodafone network covers 80% of the city with 120 cell sites. The number of cities covered will increase up to 50 by the end of 2019 and to 100 by 2021. Vodafone offered three 5G smartphones: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
Vodafone inked a network sharing 5G deal with Telecom Italia early 2019.
TIM launched its 5G service on June 24th, 2019 in parts of Rome and Turin, Naples followed in July 2019. TIM offered three new dedicated 5G-ready plans of which 2 are marketed as true 5G. TIM Advance 4.5G offers speeds of up to 700 Mbps and costs EUR 19.99 per month and comes with unlimited calls and SMS plus 40 GB of data at speeds of up to 700 Mbps. By contrast, costs EUR 29.99 per month and comes with unlimited calls and SMS plus 50 GB of data at speeds of up to 2Gbps. Finally, TIM Advance 5G Top plan costs EUR 49.99 for unlimited calls and SMS plus 100 GB of data at speeds of up to 2 Gbps. Customers on existing plans can sign up to a “5G ON” option at a cost of EUR 10 per month, with the first month free. Two 5G-capable smartphones were offered by the company: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Xiaomi MIX 3 5G from Xiaomi. The Oppo Reno 5G will follow shortly.
As of late March 2020, 5G services were available in Bologna, Brescia, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Turin, and Rome.
Latvian Mobile Telephone launched 5G network in July 2019, with limited availability. In January 2020, commercial 5G services were extended to the cities of Jelgava and Daugavpils.
Tele2 Latvia commercially launched 5G services in Daugavpils and Jelgava in January 2020. The operator said any customer with a compatible device could use the 5G network. Nevertheless, availability was very limited; each city has only two live 5G base stations. By September 2020, the network was available in Riga, Jurmala, and Valmiera.
VodafoneZiggo activated its 5G network in late April 2020 across more than half of the Netherlands. The company said that 5G coverage will reach all the Netherlands by late July. In partnership with Ericsson, the operator implemented 5G services via its existing antennas and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology which allows operators to dynamically allocate some of their existing 4G LTE spectrum to 5G.
Customers with a Red (consumer) or Red Pro (business) subscription will have 5G access at no extra cost. Currently, four 5G devices are available: Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, S20 +, S20 Ultra and Oppo Find X2 Pro.
The company notes that the mobile data download speeds that 5G can offer using its existing spectrum reach a maximum of 1 Gbps, although it adds that in practice the 5G data rates experienced by initial customers will be on average 10% higher than the 4G speeds (maximum of 350 Mbps) they were previously getting.
In late July 2020, T-Mobile Netherlands launched its 5G mobile network in The Hague and ‘most of the Netherlands’. The operator confirmed that its initial 5G network is based on its new 700 MHz spectrum, with existing subscribers to its Unlimited and Unlimited Plus subscriptions automatically receiving 5G access on suitable devices. The company plans to provide nationwide 5G coverage by the end of 2020.
KPN launched commercial 5G services the same day than T-Mobile, in late July 2020. The network covers over 90% 5G coverage in the top five Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Eindhoven, reaching approximately half of the Netherlands’ population. The operator plans to offer nationwide 5G coverage by the end of 2021. KPN announced that B2B customers will be able to purchase special 5G-only services including coverage-on-demand, application priority and guaranteed bandwidth.
Polish operator launched the country’s first commercial 5G mobile network in May 2020. The network uses 100 base stations in the 2.6 GHz band, providing 5G services in seven cities and to about 900 000 people: Warsaw, Gdansk, Katowice, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin and Wroclaw.
The operator launched 5G services via 1,600 base stations, using the 2100 MHz band and covering up to six million people in June 2020. T-Mobile aimed to cover by the end of June 2020, Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Poznan, Wroclaw, Plock, Opole, Czestochowa, Rzeszow, Bielsko-Biala and Kielce. The network uses the 2100 MHz band.
Orange Polska launched 5G commercial services on 1 July 2020. The operator said that around six million people were covered by its 5G networks, via 1,600 base stations in cities including Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow and Katowice. The network uses the 2100 MHz band while it awaits the planned auction of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.
Vodafone launched 5G services in Romania on 26 June 2019 in areas of three cities. Customers could choose two 5G plans: The Red Infinity 17 with unlimited 5G data at EUR 17 per month and Red Infinity 25 with unlimited 5G data and more services at EUR 25 per month. The Huawei Mate 20x 5G is available to users.
RCS&RDS (Digi) announced its first 5G commercial service in June 2019, in areas of six cities. The company offers two 5G compatible smartphones: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and the Huawei Mate 20x 5G.
In November 2019, Orange Romania launched 5G in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Iasi. The operator announced in January 2020 the expansion of its 5G network to Brasov and Poiana Brasov.
In late August 2020, Orange Romania announced its 5G network in Bucharest has now been expanded to cover the entire city, enabling 100% of its population to access download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps. The network has been expanded to Mamaia and Timisoara.
Telekom Slovenije launched the first commercial 5G network in Slovenia in July 2020. The mobile operator has upgraded 150 4G base stations to support 5G and announces that it provides approximately 25% coverage of the population. By the end of 2020, Telekom Slovenije expects to surpass 33% coverage.
Ericsson announced that Telekom Slovenije is using its Radio Access Network (RAN) and Cloud Core solutions for its 5G commercial rollout. Ericsson also assisted with a software installation to existing Ericsson Radio System and packet core equipment, which enables spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G on 2600 MHz FDD spectrum.
Vodafone Spain launched its commercial 5G services at 3.7 GHz in 15 cities on June 15, 2020 with initial speeds of up to 1 Gbps (and 2 Gbps at YE2019): Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander. At launch, the service is reaching approximately 50% coverage in each of the 15 cities.
Vodafone Spain activated in May 2020 its 5G network in a total of 21 cities. 5G services are now available in Alicante, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Valladolid, Benidorm and Badajoz. The company had previously said that it was working with Huawei and Ericsson in the deployment of the 5G network.
Telefonica announced on September 1st 2020 that it has switched on its Non-Standalone 5G network in unspecified Spanish locations. The network utilises 3.5 GHz spectrum, alongside with refarmed 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequencies. Telefonica also announced it has awarded Finnish vendor Nokia the contract to increase 5G coverage up to 75% of the Spanish population by year-end 2020. This means that Nokia is the only vendor to supply 5G radio technology to all of Telefonica’s 5G operations across Europe.
In the meantime, Telefonica announced it will shut down both mobile (2G and 3G) and fixed (copper) networks.
In September 2020, Orange Spain has launched 5G mobile services in selected parts of five cities, namely: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Malaga, predominantly in central areas. Orange covers around 30% of each city and plans to expand rapidly to other cities. Orange customers can access the network free of charge with 5G-capable handsets.
The Ericsson Radio System, delivering Massive MIMO, powers the 3.6 GHz 5G network in Madrid and Barcelona. Ericsson also supplies Orange Spain with a 5G Evolved Packet Core to support the 5G New Radio non-standalone 5G network.
In September 2020, Grupo MASMOVIL has become the fourth Spanish operator to launch 5G services, after switching on connectivity in 15 cities. The 5G network is available in parts of Alicante, Alcobendas, Almeria, Avila, Barcelona, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Huesca, Jaen, Madrid, Malaga, Melilla, Orense, Salamanca, Seville and Valencia. Customers with a 5G-capable handset can access the network at no extra cost.
The carrier said that the 5G service is being offered via a combination of own infrastructure and an agreement with rival operator Orange. The deal gives MASMOVIL access to Orange Spain’s entire 5G network thanks to a “virtual active sharing mode” agreement, enabling it to deploy 5G in 4,500 locations that cover 35% of the Spanish population in 40 main cities. Orange will deploy 1,500 new sites through the end of 2021 throughout the country.
In a future phase, MASMOVIL announced it aims to launch its own 5G SA network with 80 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band.
Tele2 switched on 5G networks in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo on May 24, using 80 MHz of the 3.6 GHz spectrum band. The operator said that customers with a Tele2 Unlimited subscription and a 5G compatible mobile phone from Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series will get free access to the new network from 24 June 2020. Tele2 added that customers can expect speeds surpassing 1 Gbit/s from start.
Telia Sweden announced its 5G network is active through 15 base stations in Stockholm, using its existing 700 MHz spectrum, boosted by LTE and New Radio carrier aggregation. Telia added that by the end of the year, it expects to expand coverage to a further twelve cities, including Gothenburg and Malmo. The operator is working with local partner Ericsson, which confirmed it is providing radio access network products and solutions. Certified by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the 5G network is powered by 100 % renewable energy.
In late June 2020, Tre Sweden announced the commercial launch of 5G services in Malmo, Lund, Uppsala, Helsingborg, Vasteras and large parts of Stockholm. The operator activated 385 5G masts, 200 of which are in Stockholm, and expects to cover most of the centre of the capital by the end of August.
2. Rest of Europe
Telenor Norge begun offering a commercial 5G service in March 2020, becoming the first operator in the country to do so. The 5G network initially available in nine locations across the country: Kongsberg, Elverum, Bodo, Askvoll, Fornebu, Kvitfjell, Spikersuppa, Oslo and Trondheim.
In May 2020, Telia launched 5G for customers in Lillestrøm and parts of Groruddalen in Oslo, with plans to expand to other areas during 2020.
In Switzerland, Sunrise announced partial 5G commercial launch in March 2019 and full launch in September 2019. Swisscom launched in April 2019. At launch, Swisscom’s network encompassed 100 sites in 50 cities and villages. The Swiss operator is targeting more than 90 per cent population coverage by the end of the year.
EE in the UK launched 5G services on May 30 across six cities, including some areas of London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, and Manchester. EE launched its services with the OnePlus’ 7 Pro 5G. Samsung’s S10 5G, Oppo’s Reno 5G, and the LG V50 ThinQ will also be available in June. The network had targeted to bring 5G connectivity in 45 cities and large towns by the end of 2019.
As of June 2020, EE’s 5G service was live in 80 towns and cities across the country, announced the UK carrier. The company is using a Non-standalone 5G New Radio deployment focused on using the combined power of 4G and 5G technologies. In a second phase from 2022, it will introduce the full 5G core network, enhanced device chipset capabilities, and increased availability of 5G-ready spectrum. A third phase, beginning in 2023, will introduce Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), network slicing and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds.
EE’s 5G tariffs were upgraded recently. Customers can access the 5G network with the following plans: 60 GB data at 24 GBP (27 EUR) per month, 100 GB data at 27 GBP (30 EUR) per month, 200 GB data at 31 GBP (35 EUR) per month and unlimited data at 35 GBP (40 EUR) per month. Compared to November 2019, prices for the same quantity of data have been divided by two! Prices for EE’s 5G plans in November 2019, started at GBP 41 (48 EUR) a month for 10 GB of data, rising to GBP 69 (81 EUR) a month for unlimited data.
Three UK (FWA)
3 UK switched on its 5G fixed wireless access network, becoming the third of the country’s operators to offer services over the new technology. The company turned on its 5G infrastructure in a small number of locations in central London and it’s offering a 5G home hub at 35 GBP (38 EUR) per month.
3 UK’s strategy centered on building on assets from fixed business UK Broadband it acquired in 2017. The operator plans to launch 5G mobile services in several locations by the end of the year.
Vodafone launched 5G services in the UK in July 2019 in seven cities. It plans to offer 5G services in twelve additional UK cities by ear-end 2019.
Vodafone is offering unlimited data on mobile three speed-tiered data plans. Pricing is then scaled on speed delivered rather than the volume of data used. The Unlimited Lite plan runs at 2Mbps and costs 23 GBP (25.63 EUR) a month. The Unlimited offers speeds at 10Mbps and cost 26 GBP (28.97 EUR) a month. Finally, the Unlimited Max runs at the fastest speed possible by the network and the device and costs 30 GBP (33.43 EUR) a month.
Telefonica (O2) became on October 17, the latest mobile operator to switch on its 5G network in the UK. Services are available in six cities and towns: Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, and Slough. As of June 2020, the 5G network was live across parts of 60 towns and cities in the country, up from 20 at the start of 2020. The company targeted to be live in 50 locations by summer 2020.
3. South Korea: all three players have launched 5G services
3.5 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum were auctioned off in South Korea in June 2018. SK Telecom, LGU+ and KT launched 5G services were launched in December 2018 for business customers and in April 2019 for residential users. It is expected that the deployment of nationwide 5G networks will be fully completed in 2022 or 2023.
MNOs announced in July 2018 their intention to jointly launch 5G in March 2019. This intention arrived one year after a first agreement signed in April 2018 on a shared 5G deployment and network. This first agreement’s intention aimed at avoiding a very costly launch campaign when 4G came to reality back in 2011 and generating heavy cost savings of nearly 1 billion USD over the next ten years.
In early 2020, South Korean telecom operator KT revealed in its earnings statement that the company ended 2019 with a total of 1.42 million 5G subscribers. SK Telecom announced it ended 2019 with 2.08 million 5G subscribers. The country’s larger operator by subscribers count expects to reach between 6 and 7 million 5G subscribers by the end of 2020. LG U+ reported that it closed last year with a total of 1.16 million 5G subscribers.
More than six million South Koreans had subscribed to 5G mobile networks as of April 2020, a year after local operators had commercially launched this technology. There was an increase of 8% compared to the previous month, announced the Ministry of Science and ICT.
SK Telecom’s 5G customers accounted for 45% of total 5G subscribers, followed by KT with 30% and LGUplus with 25%, the Ministry published. 5G subscribers represent just about 10% of the country’s total mobile base.
The Korean government announced that operators had already deployed a total of 115,000 5G base stations across the country.
In July 2020, South Korea’s 5G users reached 8.65 million subscribers at late August according to the data published by the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT.
Telstra Australia launched its 5G service on the 3.6 GHz band at the end of May 2019 as it had switched on over 200 5G sites since August 2018. The 5G service was available in over 10 cities, including parts of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Launceston, Toowoomba, and the Gold Coast. Twenty-five additional cities should be covered before end-June 2020 including the major regional cities in Australia. However, the operator announced it is ahead of its target and 5G services are now available in 47 cities across the country.
Telstra added it has seen a massive expansion in the number of potential customers, growing from 4 to 8 million. Swedish vendor Ericsson has announced collaboration agreements with the operator to provide 5G equipment and upgrade Telstra’s network.
The operator announced in September 2020 that it now has more than 1,500 5G sites in operation across selected areas of 53 cities and towns covering around ten million people.
The Australian operator previously acquired spectrum in the 3.6 GHz auction for AUD 386 million (EUR 240 million), giving it 60 MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all major capital cities and between 50 MHz and 80 MHz in regional areas.
Rival mobile network operator Optus announced the commercial launch of 5G mobile and 5G residential fixed broadband services covering selected areas in November 2019. 290 5G network sites went live and 1,200 sites were planned by March 2020. Recently, the company announced that by the end of May 2020 customers in parts of the western Sydney suburbs of Bonnyrigg and Minchinbury, Niagara Park on the NSW Central Coast, Cook in the ACT and the Brisbane suburb of Kenmore will be able to order 5G services. The telco is using equipment from both Ericsson and Nokia in its rollout of 5G.
Optus secured spectrum in the 3.6 GHz spectrum auction for AUD 185 million (EUR 110 million) in late 2018.
Historically, Japan has been at the forefront of mobile technology. Japan originally targeted the Tokyo summer Olympic Games, which have now been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2021, to launch 5G. However, NTT DoCoMo announced it could pre-launch 5G in September 2019 with plans to deploy commercial 5G services across Japan by mid-2020. KDDI also intends to soft-launch by year-end 2019 with a full launch in 2020. Softbank intends to launch 5G by 2020. Rakuten Mobile was planning to launch its service in 2019 starting with 4G, with 5G following a few months later. After a few months of pre-commercial service, Rakuten Mobile launched its 4G commercial service in April 2020.
In April 2019, The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) assigned spectrum in the 3.7 GHz, 4.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands to all MNOs in Japan. NTT DoCoMo received 3.6-3.7 GHz, 4.5-4.6 GHz and 27.4-27.8 GHz spectrum. KDDI got 3.7-3.8 GHz, 4.0-4.1 GHz and 27.8-28.2 GHz frequencies. Softbank was assigned 3.9-4.0 GHz and 29.1-29.5 GHz spectrum. Rakuten was issued 3.8-3.9 GHz and 27-27.4 GHz spectrum.
NTT DOCOMO launched Japan’s first 5G smartphone service on March 25, 2020. The network is live in 150 areas in Japan covering 29 of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Customers can get 100GB of data for 7 650 JPY (62 EUR) per month, excluding taxes.
KDDI launched 5G mobile services in 15 of Japan’s 47 prefectures on March 26, 2020. The operator said it aims to install 10,000 base transceiver stations by 31 March 2021 and another 10,000 BTS by the end of March 2022. Customers can access the 5G network with an unlimited data plan costing JPY8, 650 (USD78.1) per month and the option of Netflix and Apply Music streaming.
SoftBank turned-on its 5G network on March 27, 2020. 5G mobile services are available in selected areas in seven prefectures across Japan for an additional charge of 1 000 JPY (8 EUR) per month. The operator aims to install over 10,000 5G base stations by the end of March 2023 and expects 90% of the Japanese population to have access to 5G by the end of 2021.
SoftBank and KDDI are teaming together to speed up 5G rollout in rural areas. To this end, they announced on April 1st, 2020 the setup of a joint venture, 5G JAPAN. The joint venture’s goal is to promote infrastructure sharing based on the mutual use of base station assets held by the two companies. The initial capital of the joint venture will be 500 million JPY (4.24 million EUR) and each operator will own 50% of the stakes.
Greenfield operator Rakuten launched commercial 5G services in late September 2020 in certain areas across six prefectures of the country. The service, initially offered via Non-Stand Alone (NSA) 5G architecture, is already available in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo. Rakuten Mobile’s President Yoshihisa Yamada said that the operator is expecting the 5G to be available in Japan’s all 47 prefectures by end-March 2021. Rakuten Mobile expects to launch a Stand-Alone 5G network in the second quarter of 2021.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications plans to start allowing certain 4G frequencies to be converted to 5G this summer, which would let providers use existing base stations to power 5G networks.
In December 2018, China issued test licences to players for national 5G trials until June 2020 (China Telecom: 3.4-3.5 GHz, China Unicom: 3.5-3.6 GHz, 260 MHz on 2515-2675 MHz and 4800-4900 MHz). The country awarded four 5G licences to China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Broadcasting Network, earlier in June 2019, faster than anticipated.
China Telecom and China Unicom reached an agreement to jointly build a 5G network and share network infrastructure.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom launched 5G services on November 1st, 2019. The operators unveiled their monthly 5G packages. Price plans are quite similar among the three MNOs. Entry-level plans cost 129 CNY (16 EUR) per month and offer 30GB data with 300 Mbps of download speeds and 500 minutes of voice and. Most expensive plans cost 599 CNY (76 EUR) and offer 300GB of data with download speeds of up to 1Gbps. Only high-end price plans offer 5G-like speeds.
Each player activated their network in 50 cities at launch, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Jinan, and Zhengzhou. Authorities said they planned to install over 50,000 5G base stations across the country by the end of 2019. Shanghai had activated 11,859 5G base stations by mid-October 2019, in key outdoor areas.
In early October 2019, the three major mobile operators had already registered almost 9 million 5G users before the official launch. China Mobile announced 5.32 million subscribers, China Telecom hit 1.76 million subs, and China Unicom was right in line with 1.75 million users. Each player activated their network in 50 cities at launch, installing over 50,000 5G base stations across the country by the end of 2019.
The largest state-owned mobile operator by subscribers, China Mobile, signed up 15.4 million “5G Package Customers” by the end of February 2020, excluding IoT subscribers. The company is targeting 70 million 5G subscribers in 2020, and 100 million self-brand and third-party 5G smartphones sells in 2020. The operator said it will launch 5G services in all cities above the prefecture-level in 2020, investing 20 billion CNY (2.6 billion EUR). This means that more than 340 cities across the country will open 5G networks.
According to local authorities, China Mobile and China Telecom reached a combined total of 65 million 5G subscriptions as of April 2020. Market leader China Mobile ended the month with 44 million 5G subscribers and China Telecom with 22 million. Third largest operator China Unicom has not released April subscriber numbers and did not issue 5G statistics over the opening three months of 2020.
However, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, less than 44 million 5G phones have been shipped in China since 5G began six months ago. The gap between 5G subscriptions and 5G phones sold could be explained by the activation of 5G networks before the actual usage of it by the subscribers.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that by April 2020, telecommunications companies have built more than 250,000 5G base stations across the country. By September 2020, the number of base stations built was 500,000. China expects to build more than 600,000 5G base stations by the end of the year, covering cities above the prefecture level in the country. The tech hub, often referred to as China’s answer to Silicon Valley, was home to about 46,000 5G cell sites as of September 2020.
China Mobile published operational data of June 2020, registering 70.199 million 5G package subscribers. China Telecom did the same, disclosing 37.840 million 5G package subscribers. This place the total of Chinese 5G subscribers at well over 100 million (knowing that China Unicom does not disclose 5G figures). MIIT minister Xiao Yaqing noted that the number of actual 5G users is closer to 60 million. The reason for the discrepancy was not explained, suggesting that not all 5G package subscribers are in possession of a 5G-capable handset.
Chinese operators will build 800,000 5G base stations and have more than 200 million 5G subscribers by the end of 2020, said Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei’s Wireless Network Solutions unit in an industry conference.
7. USA: all major players have launched 5G services
Auctions for 28 and 24 GHz spectrum ended in January 2019 and May 2019, respectively. The upper 37 GHz, the 39 GHz and the 47 GHz auction began on time on December 10th, 2019. The bidding phase, or clock phase, ended on 5 March 2020 with gross bids totalling 7.6 billion USD.
Before launching 5G services, Verizon performed several 5G trials. It launched 5G home service in October 2018 and 5G mobile services in April 2019. Since then, Verizon has increased its nationwide coverage.
Verizon 5G FWA service
Verizon 5G Home service was launched on 1 October 2018 in limited areas of four US cities (Houston, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Los Angeles). The service is charged at USD 70 per month (USD 50/month for existing customers). There are no annual contracts, no equipment charges, and no data caps. For the first three months, an Apple TV or a Google Chromecast Ultra was offered for free (USD 40 after the first three months). The telco notes that the platform can deliver peak speeds of up to 1Gbps, although users should expect ‘typical’ speeds of around 300Mbps.
In early October 2020, the service was also available in Chicago, Detroit, Saint Paul and Minneapolis and by the end of 2020, the technology will be available in ten cities nationwide.
Verizon 5G mobile services
Verizon launched its 5G NR in selected areas of Chicago and Minneapolis in April 2019. This launch coincided with the offering of the new 5G moto mod, which was exclusive to Verizon. The 5G mobile network was available in about 35 U.S. cities as of September 2020. The operator offers three different 5G plans: the Get More unlimited enables customers to have both high data allowance and high-quality content; the Do More unlimited enables the customers to have higher data allowance and lower quality content; finally the Play More unlimited enables the customer to have higher quality content and lower data allowance.
Since early 2017, AT&T has been performing fixed wireless & mobile 5G trials in Austin, TX, Waco, TX, Kalamazoo, MI and South Bend, IN. The company launched its ‘5G E’ mobile services in certain parts of selected cities in December 2018, using the 39GHz frequencies. In April 2020, the company had rollout out its 5G network in the 850 MHz band in over 190 markets, covering about 120 million people. AT&T’s faster mm-wave network branded ‘5G+’ was launched for consumer access in March 2020, offering coverage in parts of 35 cities.
In late July 2020, AT&T announced that its 5G network using the 850 MHz band was available to 205 million consumers in 395 markets across the US.
The operator offers two different 5G mobile plans: the AT&T Unlimited Extra at 75 USD per month with 50 GB of data allowance, Standard-definition streaming and 15 GB of data sharing; and the AT&T Unlimited Elite at 85 USD per month with 100 GB of data allowance, High-definition streaming, 30 GB of data sharing, and HBO MAX.
T-Mobile USA signed in August 2018 two USD 3.5bn contracts with Ericsson and Nokia to support its nationwide 5G network deployment. Under the terms of the contract, Ericsson will provide T-Mobile with its 5G NR hardware and software, as well as Ericsson’s digital services solutions.
In July 2019, T-Mobile USA pre-launched its 5G services in selected parts of six US cities (Atlanta, Cleveland, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas) using 28 GHz frequencies.
On December 2, 2019 T-Mobile switched on its 5G network using the 600 MHz frequency band. The deployment is country’s first nationwide 5G network, covering more than 200 million people and more than 5 000 cities and towns across the country. It should however be noted that data rates available with the 600 MHz spectrum alone is lower than the data rates provided by 4G services.
In late September 2020, T-Mobile US covered a total of 210 towns and cities using its 2.5 GHz band, the former Sprint spectrum.
T-Mobile partnered with Cisco and Nokia to build its 5G core, and Ericsson and Nokia for its 5G radio infrastructure.
Sprint launched 5G services in May 2019 in three cities (Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth, and Kansas City). In July 2019, it extended services to Chicago and in September 2019 to selected parts of Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington DC.
The service was initially available on two devices, the LG V50 ThinQ and the HTC 5G Hub. For USD 80 per month, Sprint’s Unlimited Premium launch tariff was charged at 80 USD per month at launch.
The Sprint 5G Non-Standalone network is using 2.5 GHz spectrum and massive 128-antenna MIMO equipment to be able to operate 4G at the same time. The use of lower frequencies will allow Sprint to increase faster its coverage and at lower costs.
T-Mobile USA and Sprint Merger
Sprint and T-Mobile officially merged into one company in April 2020. T-Mobile started to expand its network with spectrum from Sprint in the 2.5 GHz band and opened nationwide 5G access for Sprint customers network in the 600 MHz and mm-wave bands. Customers in New York are the first to have access to 5G in the low-, mid- and mm-wave bands.
9. Other countries
Batelco and Viva announced that they had launched 5G services in June 2019.
In July 2020, Telefonica launched its 5G network in selected parts of eight state capitals, namely: Sao Paulo, Salvador, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Goiania, Curitiba, and Belo Horizonte. Rival Claro also launched 5G services in selected zones of in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in July 2020.
Rogers Communications started offering 5G services in March 2020 in parts of Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal using equipment from Ericsson. The operator announced it will eventually expand over 20 more markets by the end of 2020. Consumer and B2B subscribers to the ‘Infinite plans’ can enjoy 5G access at no extra charge until March 2021, starting at 75 CAD (49 EUR) per month for 10 GB of data. The network initially uses 2.5 GHz spectrum, with 600 MHz spectrum to be added later in 2020. The telco also expects to deploy dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), which will allow 4G frequencies to be used for 5G.
Bell Canada started the construction of its 5G network in February 2020, using equipment from Finnish vendor Nokia. The carrier also selected Ericsson 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) technology to support its nationwide 5G mobile and fixed wireless access deployment. The operator launched commercial 5G services in Montreal, The Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Bell announced on the same day a partnership with Western University in London, Ontario to create a 5G research centre including a campus-wide 5G network to support development of Canada’s 5G innovation ecosystem.
Third largest operator by mobile subscribers, Telus, announced in June 2020, the selection of European vendors Ericsson and Nokia to build its 5G network. In June 2020, the operator announced the roll-out of its 5G network in Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, and the Greater Toronto Area. The company will continue to expand to an additional 26 markets across Canada throughout the remainder of the year. Telus 5G will be available at no additional cost on Telus Peace of Mind plans with endless data and no overage fees. The mobile operator also revealed that it selected South Korea’s Samsung as a network infrastructure partner to provide ‘transformational 5G mobile services’.
HKT, Hutchison 3 and China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) launched 5G services on April 1, 2020. CMHK announced its 5G network covers over 90% of the main areas of Hong Kong Island. HKT said coverage will initially reach 11 of the territory’s 18 districts.
The Indian government is strongly backing 5G deployment but 5G is still in early stages of reflection.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) is harmonizing spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz and 26 GHz bands, along with the 71-76 GHz, the 81-86 GHz and the 57-64 GHz frequencies as 5G candidate bands.
A reasonable target for 5G launch is 2022.
All the three MNOs in Kuwait launched 5G services in July 2019.
Vodafone New Zealand launched 5G services in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown in December 2019.
Spark launched 5G service in July 2020 in Palmerston North and promised four more locations will be added before the end of the year.
Omantel launched 5G services in December 2019. The network covers parts of about 17 cities and towns. Ooredoo followed launch 5G services in over 6 cities and towns.
Globe Telecom launched 5G FWA services in June 2019 in parts of Bulacan, Cavite City, and Rizal. PLDT launched its 5G mobile network in the main business districts of Metropolitan Manila in late July 2020.
Ooredoo in Qatar claimed in May 2018 to be the first world player to launch 5G nationally with 50 sites registered late in July 2018 and 50 additional base stations to be added in August 2018. Ooredoo seems to be providing 5G wTTH (wireless To The Home) services in the 3.5 GHz spectrum range domestically with the very few compatible devices available (25 devices according to Gulf times).
Vodafone Qatar has also launched 5G services in August 2019.
The SA Kingdom set up a national 5G task force to prepare the foundations for a large scale 5G rollout before the end of 2019.
Since May 2017, CITC (Communications and Information Technology Commission) awarded 160 MHz of additional IMT spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, and 1800 MHz bands to mobile operators Mobily, STC and Zain.
CITC issued testing licences to all three operators in May 2018. The 3.6-3.8 GHz licences allow the MNOs to test 5G with 100 MHz of spectrum between June 2018 and year-end 2019.
Zain and STC launched 5G services in June 2019.
In May 2020, Vodacom turned on 5G in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. Wider coverage is expected throughout the year. MTN rolled out 5G services in areas of Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Edenvale, Johannesburg, Hopetown, Queenstown, Port Elizabeth, Port Alfred. Rain launched 5G services in areas of Cape Town, Johannesburg & Tshwane in July 2020.
In March 2020, Advanced Info Service (AIS) launched 5G services on the 2600 MHz range it acquired from auction concluded the same month. The company announced that 1 000 of its cells are compatible with frequency band and that it plans to spend 10-15 billion THB (290-430 thousand EUR) on 5G network expansion over one year.
Taiwan Star launched its commercial 5G services in August 2020. 5G coverage in Taiwan’s major metropolitan areas has reached 50% and are expected to top 80% by the end of 2020.
Du announced the rollout in 2018 of a limited service of 5G. Du’s announcement follows rival Etisalat’s plans to roll out 5G commercial fixed devices in September 2018.
Du and Etisalat launched 5G mobile services in June 2019.
Antel launched a commercial 5G network in April 2019, in Manantiales, though limited in reach.