South Korea the global 5G leader on Arthur D. Little maturity index

29 March 2019 Consultancy.asia

South Korea has been identified as the clear global leader in the deployment of 5G in an analysis conducted by management consultancy Arthur D. Little.

“5G will soon become widely available – and first movers have a significant lead.” So begins Arthur D. Little’s Global 5G Leadership Index report, with South Korea not just identified as a first mover, but a clear runaway leader – ahead of other strong performers the US, Australia and Qatar. From a regional perspective, the Asia Pacific was also considered the most advanced.

Benchmarking more than 40 countries across the globe, the analysis considered the maturity of each country’s 5G deployment against two dimensions – the development of infrastructure and levels of commercialisation – with South Korea leading in both, its 5G spectrum already allocated and its large mobile operators having since rolled out their networks across considerable areas.

South Korea was in a group of only eight 5G ‘leaders’ worldwide, joined by Switzerland, Finland, Spain and the UAE together with the US, Australia and Qatar, while Japan and Singapore lead the ‘followers’ group – with both countries assessed as very advanced in terms of technology adoption, 5G trials and infrastructure availability, but hampered by their lack of 5G spectrum allocation.South Korea the global 5G leader on Arthur D. Little maturity index“All leading countries have in common that they have already allocated 5G spectrum,” state the authors of the report. “These countries have enabled operators to roll out 5G networks quickly, many commercially, in 2018, and to trial use cases successfully. Markets with high-performance backhaul infrastructure rate higher, as this capability allows them to roll out 5G faster.”

“Additionally, the leading markets demonstrate high willingness to adopt new services supported by high 4G usage and fiber take-up, as well as several competitors to foster fast 5G roll-out. Overall, they do not face any major limitations, be these in terms of infrastructure, regulation, market demand for 5G applications, economic strength, or competitive dynamics.”

Elsewhere in Asia, China and Hong Kong were also among the ‘followers’ – respectively scoring a 6.4 and 6.1 rating on the index (compared to 8.8 out of 10 for South Korea), while the Philippines was assessed as a ‘5G laggard’, ranking last overall of the 43 countries analysed with a rating of just 3.4. Other table dwellers included Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Bulgaria.

“5G is the first mobile network generation which promises the data throughput, latency, and flexibility to enable the next level of digitisation across consumer types,” said Karim Taga, Arthur D. Little’s global Telecommunications, Information Technology, Media & Electronics (TIME) practice leader. “Future business competitiveness will rely on 5G networks, making their fast deployment essential.”

5G skeptics

Meanwhile, the global leader of Accenture’s network practice, George Nazi, has been moved to respond to the lingering skepticism from the business community toward 5G network technology – with a survey of 1,800 executives finding that more than half thought it would be of little advantage over 4G. “The reality is that 5G will bring a major wave of connectivity that opens new dimensions for innovation and commercial and economic development,” Nazi said.

Nazi pointed to breakthroughs in three-dimensional video, smart-city infrastructure, autonomous cars and immersive television as examples which will unleash transformative opportunities that are still difficult to imagine today, noting that if companies fail to plan for 5G now they could well miss out on such opportunities. "Telecommunications companies will play a pivotal role in bringing these prospects to light."