5G race accelerates

5G Standalone Core dominates key service provider activity.

Spirent Communications has released a mid-year addendum to its annual 5G Report, based on analysis and takeaways from more than 1,400 global 5G engagements, including 400+ new engagements during the first half of 2021. Milestones at the 2021 halfway mark show that 5G trends are continuing to accelerate, with 5G SA Core evaluation, testing and launch activities growing significantly across all geographic regions. In particular, there is considerable demand for managed solutions and XaaS (Anything as a Service) offerings, with automation technology providing a proven, practical approach to cumbersome testing in complex, multi-vendor environments. The report addendum is available here.

“At the halfway point in 2021, the dominant 5G trends that were present at the start of the year continue to gather pace, with the need for agility and responsiveness enduring,” said Spirent’s Head of Market Strategy, Steve Douglas. “With end-user adoption increasing at a blistering pace, service providers in all major regions are focused on accelerating time to market, improving coverage and optimizing costs. It’s clear that the global 5G race is back on.

“With adoption of 5G accelerating across both commercial and government segments, and in all global regions, state-of-the-art test automation is proving to be a key enabler, along with adoption of CI/CD methodologies.”

The mid-year addendum to the Spirent 5G report draws on the company’s work with service providers, network equipment manufacturers, governments, and device makers worldwide. It provides an update to the developments along the journey to global 5G. Key finding from the addendum include:

• Geographic Trends - All major regions (North America, Europe and Asia) are aggressively pursuing 5G Standalone (SA) Core testing and deployments. North America is driving the demand for customer experience and service assurance solutions. Asia Pacific continues its focus on and investment in transport infrastructure, toward the goal of supporting industrial use cases. Europe is starting to accelerate activities after COVID and high-risk vendor delays.

• 5G Standalone - New services and differentiation are driving 5G Standalone. 5G SA Core evaluation, testing and launch continue to grow significantly across all geographic regions. Large service providers are looking to use multiple vendors while smaller telcos look for one key partner. Key challenges include supporting high release volumes and managing multi-vendor performance.

• 5G Telco Edge Cloud - Partnerships, early trials and deployments between hyperscalers and service providers are expanding. Providers are still working to benchmark edge performance and integrate assurance for consistent, deterministic latency. Latency looks set to become a key battle ground for the hearts and minds of industry and enterprises.

• Open RAN - There are currently 45 ongoing Open RAN trials and early deployments across 27 countries (source: TeckNexus). Leading 5G service providers are targeting larger scale Open RAN non-dense urban rollouts during 2022. Early deployments will focus on rural, indoor and private coverage. Interoperability, performance, robustness and system integrator overheads require that service providers continue to test and validate every deployment phase.

• 6G Vision - The industry is beginning to coalesce around some key themes, including THz frequencies, use of intelligent reconfigurable surfaces and metamaterials, open networking and network of networks (terrestrial cellular, NTN, subsea, and Wi-Fi convergence).


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