5G SA core deployments rise to 42 in 2022
Last year saw a steady growth in 5G network coverage with the number of subscribers reaching almost 1 billion worldwide. Although most of the 5G deployments in 2022 were in the developed economies of the world, Counterpoint Research expects that the bulk of network roll outs in 2023 will be in emerging markets. This will drive the continuing transition from 5G NSA to 5G SA.
Counterpoint Research ‘s recently published 5G SA Tracker is a culmination of an extensive study of the 5G SA market. It provides details of all operators with 5G SA cores in commercial operation at the end of 2022, with market share by region, vendor and by frequency band. As shown in the chart, Asia-Pacific region led the world at the end of 2022, followed by North America and Europe, with the other regions – Middle-East and Africa and Latin America – lagging behind.
Key points discussed in the report include:
- Operators – 42 operators have deployed 5G SA commercially with many more testing and in trials. Most of the deployments are in the developed economies of the world with those in emerging economies lagging. In some markets, operators have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach and are looking for evidence of successful use cases before switching from 5G NSA to SA. The ongoing economic headwinds might also delay commercial deployment of SA particularly during the first half of 2023.
- Vendors – Ericsson and Nokia lead the 5G SA Core market globally and are benefiting from the geopolitical sanctions on Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE in some markets. Asian vendors Samsung and NEC are mainly focused on their respective domestic markets but and are expanding their reach to Tier-2 operators and emerging markets, while US vendor Mavenir is active across all regions, with multiple deployments due to become live in 2023, including several with Tier-1 operators.
- Spectrum – most operators are deploying 5G in mid-band frequencies, for example, n78, as it provides faster speeds and good coverage. A small number of operators have also launched commercial services in the sub-1GHz and millimetre wave bands. FWA seems to be the most popular use case at present but there is a lot of interest in edge services and network slicing as well.
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