The number of 5G trials nearly tripled over the past year, with Asia Pacific accounting for 43 per cent of 72 trials globally, a new report from Viavi Solutions showed.

A total of 31 operators in Asia Pacific are testing 5G, with nine involved in field trials including South Korea-based mobile players SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus; China Mobile and China Unicom; and NTT Docomo in Japan. Another ten operators in seven APAC countries are conducting 5G lab trials.

In its State of 5G Trials report, Viavi Solutions said the pace of 5G field trials and deployments rapidly accelerated during the past six months, with an additional 28 operators announcing plans for 5G trials.

Great expectations
Despite the fact 3GPP non-standalone New Radio (NR) specifications were released only in late December 2017, 14 network equipment manufacturers have announced involvement in 5G trials. These tests have been conducted across a broad range of bandwidths, ranging from sub-3GHz to 86GHz. Of the operators disclosing their test spectrum, the most commonly trialled wavelength is 28GHz, with 21 operators using it, followed by the 15GHz band.

“Expectations for 5G are sky-high, offering mobile operators new opportunities for revenue,” said Stephane Teral, executive director of research and analysis for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at IHS Markit: “Yet the path to full 5G adoption is complicated and still evolving. Operators and infrastructure vendors across the globe are moving at varying speeds when it comes to testing and deployment – they need to act now to address technology challenges.”

Sameh Yamany, Viavi Solutions CTO, said network service providers have been grappling with the evolution to 5G for some time, including how to address technology challenges such as fixed-mobile convergence, hybrid cloud, network slicing and increasing virtualisation.

He noted virtual test, automation, self-optimisation and analytics will be essential to dealing with the growing complexity and scale of 5G networks, while managing demand for high data rates, very low latency applications and large-scale IoT services.

Viavi Solutions said the data for the report was compiled from publicly available sources.