An Overview of 5G Technology Worldwide 2021

Why the New Standards Are About More than Speed

About This Report
5G networks are operating in over 60 countries as of early 2021. This report reviews what the arrival of 5G means and focuses on some of the critical applications that will make it revolutionary.

Executive Summary

As 5G networks spread and consumers start to upgrade to 5G phones, the long-hyped promise is starting to become a reality—slowly. The biggest performance improvements from 5G still lie in the future, but businesses can start investing in improvements now.

What makes 5G networks a big deal?

Networks that operate fully on 5G standards have faster throughput speeds, much lower latency (responsiveness of remote computers), higher connection density, more reliability, and greater flexibility. This should improve the mobile user experience and lead to a slew of new services and businesses.

How extensive are 5G networks?

It depends on the country. In the US, the networks cover the majority of the population, but most connections still don’t offer a major performance improvement. That should change once networks build a new core infrastructure with edge computing and move to standalone 5G services, i.e., where all elements of the connection are 5G. It will take a few years until this is the case in the US and other leading countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and China.

What early applications of 5G will be most notable to consumers?

Richer media applications—e.g., multistream video, augmented reality (AR), or high-definition videoconferencing—will be the easiest to develop. The low latency of 5G will also make cloud gaming and better AR devices feasible.

How will enterprises benefit from 5G?

Businesses will be able to collect vast amounts of data from more numerous remote devices, store and work with that data in the cloud, and control operations remotely. Private networks and better connections will also let them reimagine the design of office spaces, factories, and stores—and how their workers interact within each.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report describes the current 5G networks, their long-term potential, and some of the applications they will enable.

KEY STAT: 5G connections will number about 600 million worldwide in 2021 and 3.0 billion by 2025, according to Omdia and 5G Americas.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Key Points
  3. Why 5G Matters
  4. Current Networks Around the World
  1. Applications of 5G
  2. Getting Ready for 5G
  3. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Jim Brisimitzis
5G Open Innovation Lab
Founder and General Partner
Interviewed January 14, 2021
Ian Fogg
Vice President, Analysis
Interviewed January 13, 2021
Elise Neel
Vice President, New Business Incubation
Interviewed January 20, 2021
Michael Thelander
Signals Research Group
Interviewed January 8, 2021

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Yoram Wurmser


Alina Brentnall
Researcher, Europe
Man-Chung Cheung
Research Analyst
Matteo Ceurvels
Research Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Jennifer Jhun
Research Director, International and Special Projects
Chris Keating
Director, Research
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Sara M. Watson
Senior Analyst
Xiaodi Xu