5G has peaked globally, as 47 out of the world’s 70 largest economies have active 5G networks, American communications equipment company VIAVI‘s seventh annual “The State of 5G”, released yesterday, found.

Close to 2,500 cities across 92 countries have commercial 5G networks, while a further 23 countries have pre-commercial 5G trials underway. Thirty-two countries have also announced their 5G intentions. This leaves only 48 countries, many of which are smaller island nations, that have not publicly announced plans for 5G, the study revealed. 

Source: VIAVI (5G Cities Leaderboard)

The U.S. is leading the race, outpacing China for the first time. Over 500 cities in the U.S. now have 5G networks, compared to just 297 in May 2022. 

Canada has 90 cities with active 5G networks, placing it fifth on the 5G cities leaderboard, behind Finland and the Philippines.

The manufacturing sector accounts for the majority of private 5G networks deployments, followed by logistics, education, transport, sports, utilities and mining.

According to the study, this trend suggests that “organizations with the biggest connectivity pain points and greatest opportunities for smart applications are naturally emerging as the Private 5G front-runners.”

Another new study by market research firm Fact.MR adds that the 5G era is focused on linking Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial automation systems, which will usher in the age of the 6G network, which combines intelligent information systems with robust computation skills to reinvent how we live and work.

6G runs on untapped radio frequencies and employs technologies such as AI to provide low-latency, high-speed communication at a rate many times faster than fifth-generation networks.

According to the study, the 6G network market is set to boom to a valuation of US$300 billion by 2033, expanding rapidly at a 50 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2023 to 2033.

Screencap from Fact.MR study

The global 6G market, currently valued at US$5 billion, is expected to have at least 20 times the wide-area capability of 5G and exceed 1,000 Mbps, which is ten times faster than the 5G user-experienced data rate.

Further, the Fact.MR study predicts that North America, notably the U.S., will account for a major share of the global 6G market, owing to the presence of key companies and favorable government efforts.

According to VIAVI’s chief technical officer (CTO) Sameh Yamany, 2022 remains “5G’s graduation year”, and “we can look forward to more sophisticated network and business capabilities from operators,” including standalone 5G networks and Open RAN technologies.

5G Standalone (SA) networks, for instance, built using a new 5G core and which operate independently of an existing 4G infrastructure, are also rapidly gaining momentum, as more organizations start taking advantage of their wide array of use cases and monetization models compared to non-standalone networks (NSA).

Additionally, VIAVI’s study argued that spectrum for 5G in the millimeter wave (mmWave) has garnered a lot of interest from diverse countries. This spectrum range offers important benefits, with the highest speeds, lowest latency, and highest capacity, but also comes with downsides, such as lower range, higher equipment costs and the need for dense deployments.

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