The 5G Country Leadership Index, released on Thursday by global management consultancy Arthur D. Little, benchmarked more than 40 countries and turned up some surprising findings.
The Index identified South Korea as the clear leader in terms of 5G commercialisation and infrastructure availability, closely followed by the US and Australia.
Also in the leadership group, but clearly behind the leading three countries, were Qatar, Finland and Switzerland.
According to ADL, Southeast Asia is the most advanced 5G region, while the US has the most operators involved in 5G and, along with Australia, is among the first to launch commercial services.
Gulf Cooperation Council countries are also ahead, while Europe overall lags due to heterogeneous infrastructure and fragmentation, as well as outstanding spectrum allocations, with the auction process still ongoing in many countries.
Leaders have 5G spectrum allocated, high-performance backhaul infrastructure in place, have announced ambitious goals for 5G launch or launched already, and have successfully tested multiple use-cases.
Additionally, they demonstrate a high willingness to adopt new services and have the right level of competition to foster commercialisation.
ADL says the findings of the 5G Leadership Index validate the consultancy’s 2017 report on the five potential deployment models for 5G.
Globally, gigabit broadband to the home, future corporate networks and digital industrial ecosystems are the models that seem to have driven 5G progress most significantly, according to ADL
For example, 5G fixed-wireless-access improves coverage with gigabit broadband, which the US is pushing for heavily (while Australia is a laggard in this area).
5G is central to the next stage of digitalisation, providing the always-on, high-speed and high-capacity networks to underpin industrial process automation, autonomous vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence, says ADL.
Major sports events are an opportunity to showcase a leadership position in 5G-enabled industrial ecosystems in combination with media co-operation, as demonstrated by South Korea during the Olympics.
Karim Taga, managing partner and Global Practice leader TIME at Arthur D. Little, says: “5G networks are at the heart of future business competitiveness, making their deployment a key priority.
“Our analysis shows that South Korea is currently the clear leader, but that many others are also moving beyond trials to launch 5G networks.
“We expect adoption to accelerate in Q3/4 2019 as leading brands have launched 5G smartphones and modems at MWC this week. During this year, we foresee that dozens of operators will launch 5G services commercially, eventually improving their rankings. The race is on!”