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Spirent 5G Report Update: Mid-Year Trends and 5G Milestones

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While the pandemic influenced 5G’s evolution since our original report at the beginning of the year, clear trends and decisive developments have been established in the interim. Learn more about 5G’s key advancements and forecasts for this pivotal technology’s future.

It’s been a “blink and you missed it” year for 5G trend acceleration. The pandemic played a role. But the bulk of the credit goes to the agile sensibility and out-of-the-lab thinking that followed.

Our newly released 5G 2021 Update: Market Drivers, Insights and Considerations – A Spirent Report Addendum explores the autonomy global teams are exercising to keep business moving forward. Spirent’s advancements at the half-year mark offer insight into that trend:

  • We now support over 1,400 5G engagements (>400 new in H1 2021) around the world.

  • Implementations of the 5G Standalone (SA) Core, among telecom’s most ambitious undertakings, dominate our work with operators.

  • Our innovation is in high gear, most recently introducing the industry’s first subscription-based automated 5G Core test suite.

  • Spirent’s 5G Network Digital Twin took top honors in global 5G innovation recognition program.

  • Growth shows no signs of slowing as we acquired octoScope to position Spirent as the world’s Wi-Fi market leader, laying the foundation for future 5G and Wi-Fi convergence testing.

One year ago, it would have been hard to predict such significant momentum. Yet, this swift march forward is playing out market wide. Technology implementations like automated testing, assurance and Lab as a Service have been fast-tracked to the tune of positive results that over-delivered on expectations. The bevy of operational and process evolutions that followed have excelled in the proving grounds stage and are now set for widescale deployment.

Rise of the trusted partner

Perhaps the most notable trend underpinning 5G rollouts is the status elevation of software, gear and service companies from that of “vendor” to “trusted partner.”

Physical limitations imposed by the pandemic created an urgent need for centralized, XaaS (Anything as a Service) offerings that replicated what could previously only be accomplished in the lab. A fast-moving market meant operators couldn’t afford to misstep. Tightening budgets meant internal teams needed to be focused only on areas where they were expert, leaning on highly skilled partners to fill in the qualified resource gaps.

Quotes

Tightening budgets meant internal teams needed to be focused only on areas where they were expert, leaning on highly skilled partners to fill in the qualified resource gaps.

In the end, it was about being ready with the right solutions, services and capabilities at the right time. How else could lab and live test and assurance continue so seamlessly and unabated? Or faster-than-expected 5G SA Core ramp-ups been supported?

Beyond the scores of teams and collective ingenuity guiding newly prioritized and accelerated operational transformations, it’s been software, assurance and automation technologies also serving in starring roles. The work is being performed quickly, efficiently, cost-effectively and with intelligent feedback loops that can course correct as needed. These are groundbreaking advancements that have emerged as a vital lifeblood of 5G rollouts.

The 5G Evolution Timeline

5G playing geographic catchup

Another mid-year finding revealed the global work Spirent is engaged in supports an ongoing trend of leveling the playing fields for 5G rollouts.

Initially, the U.S. and APAC led the charge. Now, Europe’s rollout is gaining pace as well. From our engagements we see operators in every region aggressively moving to 5G SA as soon as possible. Achieving this objective includes adopting state-of-the-art test automation driven by continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) principles and practices, which is a growing requirement across regions.

On the device side, North America remains the strongest market for device testing. Particularly, we saw a marked increase in managed solution demand for field testing that could accurately validate network-wide data, video and voice experiences. Video benchmarking has also become a top priority. Meanwhile, government and military 5G and Open RAN (ORAN) interest is currently heavily U.S.-focused but poised to expand globally in parallel with service provider exploration.

Progress, and then some

According to GSA, nearly 170 operators have launched mobile or fixed wireless access (FWA) services. More than 75 are investing in 5G SA. 500 5G device form factors are now commercially available. With over 450 million current 5G subscribers and 1.8 billion anticipated by 2025, the industry is moving emphatically toward widespread and worldwide adoption.

Dive deeper into the trends, catalysts and market movements driving 5G’s latest milestones. Our 5G 2021 Update: Market Drivers, Insights and Considerations – A Spirent Report Addendum is now available for download. We track overall 5G progress to date and offer our take on key technologies and industry initiatives, and which vertical markets are hottest. Case studies spanning public cloud, tier-one network deployments, and military and government take you behind the scenes of the industry-leading work we are privileged to support.

You can also access our original 2021 5G report.

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Stephen Douglas
Stephen Douglas

Head of Market Strategy, Spirent

Stephen works for Spirent's strategy organization helping to define technical direction, new innovative solutions, and market leading disruptive technologies which make a real difference. With close to 20 years experience in telecommunications Stephen has been at the cutting edge of next generation technologies and has worked across the industry with multiple service providers, start-ups and Tier 1 OEMs helping them drive innovation and transformation. Stephen is an ardent believer in connected technology and strives to challenge, blur, and break down the silos which prevent innovation and business success.