PARTNER CONTENT: 5G has been a phenomenal success with more than 200 commercial networks already launched worldwide, but leading industry group GSA (the Global mobile Suppliers Association) believes the next iteration of the technology – 5G-Advanced – will usher in a new wave of exciting high-tech use cases.

In an interview with Mobile World Live in Huawei’s extended reality studio at MWC Barcelona 2022, Joe Barrett, GSA president, reflected on how far 5G has come in a short space of time.

5G is synonymous with superfast download speeds and low latency, but Barrett was keen to highlight how the technology is helping bring huge swathes of the world’s population online: “What 5G really brings initially is opening up new spectrum, especially in the higher band, where we’ve got more capacity to deliver mobile broadband, particularly into rural areas and deliver fixed wireless access to open up services for the billions of people that these days still don’t have fixed internet access.”

Indeed, the GSA recently stated that 83 operators in 45 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G fixed wireless access services.

And wider 5G statistics from the GSA are equally impressive. By the end of February 2022, GSA had identified 427 operators in 137 countries/territories that were investing in 5G, including trials, acquisition of licences, planning, network deployment and launches.

The association counts over 950 commercially available 5G devices, including more than 640 5G phones, up 131% from 278 at the end of 2020.

5G-Advanced around the corner

But the industry is not standing still with 5G. While the next ‘G’ – 6G – is likely to make a commercial appearance sometime around 2030, 5G improvements will need to be realised before then; it therefore stands to reason that a mid-point advancement is coming.

With an expected arrival in 2025, that advancement is 5G-Advanced, the 3GPP’s branding for 5G technologies to be delivered by 3GPP Release 18 specifications and beyond.

Release 18 is currently expected to be published in 2024.

Industry support

Of course, for 5G-Advanced to be a success it needs the support of the whole industry. GSA’s Barrett said the organisation’s membership – reflecting the entire mobile supply chain – are being very active in standardisation work.

“They will continue to work to bring those services, those technologies, those features to market through their own products, and then also support the technology as it continues to advance in the coming years,” concluded Barrett.