More than 60 countries now have 5G

By Harry Menear
The GSA’s latest report found that 144 operators in 61 countries have launched commercial 5G services...

After a year of frantic activity, even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t do much to slow the global 5G rollout.

New data released this week from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) found that, as of January 2021, 144 mobile network operators in 61 countries had achieved a successful commercial launch of either mobile or fixed wireless access 5G services compatible with 3GPP.

Those 144 operators fit into a larger subset of 413 operators in 131 countries that are making investments into launching 5G, conducting trials, tests, pilots and deployments. 

Of those operators, 65 are investing in standalone 5G, with the rest focusing on building their 5G capabilities on top of their existing LTE and 4G infrastructure. 

The steady growth in 5G adoption, according to the GSA’s researchers, points to the technology remaining “on track to become one of the fastest adopted mobile technologies ever,” pointing to several milestones achieved over the past 12 months, including half of the world’s mobile network operators investing in 5G (a figure drawn from the comparison between 412 5G-investing operators and 806 LTE-investing operators as of December 2020), as well as the successful launch of 5G services in all regions, and the deployment of more than 185 private 5G networks, as well as the continuation of multiple 5G spectrum auctions held by government institutions around the globe. 

The GSA expects spectrum activity to continue to grow and mature in the coming months, with more than 22 auctions underway or scheduled before the end of 2022. 

Just last month, the US Federal Communications Commission saw a record $80.9bn in proceeds raised in its 5G spectrum auction, with telecoms competing for 5,684 blocks of the country’s 5G airwaves - shattering the US’ existing record for a spectrum auction of $44.9bn. 

“5G commercial networks are now live in more than 60 markets around the world. This statement alone demonstrates the worldwide demand for 5G services, and with hundreds of operators still investing in 5G, we can clearly see the direction that the industry is taking towards abundant, widespread 5G,” said GSA President Joe Barrett. 

“These figures are encouraging and as an industry, we can only be excited about how fast the ecosystem is making 5G available which could indicate a faster adoption rate.”


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