Telcos begin standalone 5G deployment to unlock true 5G potential, says GlobalData

All the current commercial 5G rollouts by telecom companies globally are based on non-standalone (NSA) architecture, which helped them with quick go-to-market to monetize 5G services. However, NSA technology has limitations to unlock 5G’s full potential to support the majority of industrial use cases. Against the backdrop,  telcos are scaling their NSA 5G network with standalone (SA) infrastructure, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Venkata Naveen, Senior Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “SA 5G is the next crucial step for wireless connectivity, which has the potential to unravel a range of future transformative applications for businesses. It offers faster connection times, low latency and instant access for diverse industry applications including smart factories, retail, smart cities and connected vehicles.”

An analysis of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center reveals how various telcos have fared with SA 5G rollouts so far.

T-Mobile rolled out world’s first nationwide SA 5G network in the US that uses its 600 MHz spectrum. Though the company rolled out 600 MHz 5G networks last year, it was based on the NSA architecture. With the shift to SA 5G, the operator expanded its network coverage to over 250 million population and reduced latency by 40%.

AT&T is currently testing SA 5G infrastructure with plans to deploy the network across the US by the end of 2020, while anticipating to scale up in June 2021.

Verizon completed its first trial for end-to-end data transmission successfully over its SA 5G network. It has plans to shift its mobile traffic from NSA by the end of 2020 with full commercialization in 2021.

Vodafone launched the UK’s first live SA 5G deployment at Coventry University. The network will initially be used to boost training outcomes of student nurses using virtual reality. The move comes a year after the operator launched commercial 5G based on NSA network technology.

In the rest of the world, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have started upgrading their existing network infrastructure to SA 5G in China; Ericsson in Europe has plans to switch to SA 5G in 2021.

Mr Naveen concludes: “The need for high-speed internet connectivity is becoming crucial now more than ever with an intertwined virtual and physical presence, where demand for remote work, education, healthcare and e-commerce is increasing. Looking forward, the SA 5G networks has the potential to unleash many direct-to-consumer use cases that have never been possible before.”

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