Matt Kapko Editor July 8, 2021
5G was on the lips of almost every speaker and attendee at MWC Barcelona, but evidence of what the technology has done in a meaningful way for any person or organization to date remains lacking.
The world’s first mobile 5G networks were deployed two years ago and everyone in the industry is still searching, waiting for 5G to deliver on its promise. It might never happen, but it’s not for lack of effort or investment.
Despite the scourge of COVID-19 and steep plunges in global economic activity, mobile network operators’ capex grew unencumbered in 2020, Stéphane Téral, chief analyst at LightCounting, said during a panel discussion at MWC Barcelona 2021.
“Mobile infrastructure grew by double digits. Think about it: This is a $40 billion business, and it grew at double digits last year. We have never seen such a pace of a rollout of a new G,” he said, calling it an “unprecedented” rate of adoption for the wireless industry.
Most 5G Networks Have Strings Attached
However, most of the 141 live 5G networks at the end of April 2021 were operating in non-standalone (NSA) mode, according to Téral. “Don’t believe it means no strings attached. Actually it’s the contrary, those networks are 4G on steroids. They are anchored into LTE Advanced,” he said.