With a gain of 635 new 5G cities deployed in 2021, the total number of cities with 5G networks grew to 1,947 globally, according to new data from networking test and monitoring vendor Viavi Solutions Inc.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 5G cities were rapidly deployed by telecoms with the U.S. and China accounting for the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the U.S. has 296 cities. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.
“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, Viavi Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard.”
By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place with the newest countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021.
Most of these networks that were deployed are non-standalone (NSA) networks, meaning 5G equipment that can be piggybacked on existing 4G network infrastructure. There are 24 standalone (SA) 5G networks globally — those built using new 5G core networks.
5G SA is considered the technology needed for future use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced mobile broadband.