With South Korea in first place, followed by Switzerland, Kuwait, the US, Qatar, China, the UK, Finland, Japan and Germany rounding out the top 10 countries on OMDIA ranking of 5G deployments, we're told that "Australia’s ranking slipped one place during the quarter, as service launches by the three leading operators in Japan lifted that market’s ranking to nine".
OMDIA has the rankings are taken from its latest Global 5G Progress Update, dated March 2020 - even though we are now in September and just hours away from October as I type.
However these kinds of reports are rarely in real time, with the report identifying "the deployment progress of 5G based on commercial operator launches, network coverage, subscriber take-up as well as 5G spectrum availability and regulatory environment".
Also, this report updates Omdia’s initial 5G progress assessment made up to December 2019.
So, what does OMDIA have to say about the Australian market?
We're told that "Australia slipped one place as Japan scaled up its commercial 5G services in the quarter to March 2020".
"Based on these factors OMDIA’s research concluded that South Korea — as it did in the 4G era — has established itself as the early market-leader for 5G technology deployment with Switzerland and Kuwait following behind.
"[South] Korea is leading the way with adoption reaching 5.88 million at the end of March; approaching 10% of wireless services in the market. Delays to spectrum availability, limited coverage, device availability and COVID headwinds have limited progress in other markets.
"However, expansive coverage rolled out by Sunrise and Swisscom in Switzerland, Ooredoo and Vodafone in Qatar and Kuwait three service providers has rivalled Korea for breadth of market coverage".
OMDIA principal analyst Stephen Myers said: “Australia is a particularly interesting market for 5G given the opportunity for Fixed Wireless to generate higher margins than available through the resale of the NBN services.
“We have already seen some Australian operators target that segment with 5G Fixed Wireless services and we expect that trend to continue given the ability that 5G has to offer high-speed services to households.
“However, delivering that kind of service on a wide scale, particularly in outer suburban, regional and rural areas is going to be extremely challenging given the cost of deployment of 5G at scale in those areas.”
Here's OMDIA's Comparison of 5G progress by country, March 2020:
OMDIA also shared its Ranking Methodology, which I'm reprinting below in full for those interested in knowing:
The ranking used in this report looks to assess the market 5G progress combine the following assessment criteria
- Spectrum available – what is the total spectrum that has been released to service providers for 5G use.
- Service provider launches – how many service providers have launched 5G commercial services. In future editions this will extend to whether 5G services from MVNO have emerged
- Network coverage – what proportion of the population is covered by the live 5G networks. Where specific disclosure have not been made, estimates based on announced deployment programs and coverage maps have been used
- 5G take-up – proportion of total mobile services active on the 5G network. This requires both a 5G enabled device and service plan. Omdia notes some service providers are bundling 5G access into existing service plans at no incremental charge.
- Ecosystem – a more subjective assessment of factors that enhance the adoption of 5G services and creation of value from 5G services. This includes government policy programs, vendors activities and investment, end-user sponsorship and service provider cooperation that facilitate network deployment and service take-up
The combination of these criteria reflect the readiness in markets yet to launch services and development in markets where 5G services have been launched. While using coverage metrics does advantage small geographies, where a large proportion of the population can be covered with 100’s of base stations rather than 1,000’s or 10,000’s, broad and deep coverage remain prerequisite for the transition of services to 5G. As 5G services mature and as enterprise applications become more central to service provider offerings it can be expected the criteria for assessing 5G progress would evolve.
The criteria used reflect the foundational factors for each market (each allocated a 10% weighting)
- How much spectrum been made available for 5G services?
- Have carriers been able to launch commercial services?
- Is there are supportive local ecosystem promoting 5G services?
The balance of the ranking is split equally between measurable indicators of 5G progress in the form of
- Network coverage
The rankings use a relative assessment, effectively assigning Korea a score of 100% for the September quarter due to its global leadership across all five of the assessment criteria:
- Spectrum – 2,680 MHz across the 3.5 and 28 GHz bands
- Service launches – all three Korean service providers have commercial offerings available to the mass market, and MVNO services have been launched
- Network coverage – approximately 90% population coverage
- 5G take-up – 5.88 million 5G subscribers, or nearly 10% of the mobile market
- Ecosystem – Strong government support and leading local vendor ecosystem