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Just under half of the wireless network operators in the world plan to have 5G technology deployed within the next 12 months, if they don’t already. The vast majority of carriers expect have begun deploying 5G within 24 months. 
AT&T and Verizon have been monopolizing the 5G spotlight, perhaps creating an impression that few other service providers are doing much with 5G. But the results of a survey conducted on behalf of Ixia demonstrate that there is an enormous cast of carriers in the wings preparing to take the stage, and soon. 
The survey asked service providers about their plans for evaluating 5G technology, and also their plans for deploying 5G technology. 
The results suggest that the evolution toward 5G is moving faster than many expected, according to Ixia vice president of mobility and virtualization products Kalyan Sundhar. He told EDN, “The thing that interested us quite a bit was that two-thirds of them [network operators] will be in some state of evaluation in next 12 months… A lot of industry experts said it will be deployed later. Well, deployment in a widespread way may not come for a few years, but there’s a lot of action that will be driven by vendors and service providers over the course of the next 12 months,” Sundhar said. 

Two-thirds plan to evaluate 5G in the next year, and another 26 percent plan to start sometime in the subsequent 12 months. That leaves only 7 percent of wireless network operators uninterested in actively investigating the technology within the next two years. 
As for turning plans into action, the survey showed that 13 percent of carriers have already deployed some 5G technology, and another 31 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months. Another 39 percent will begin deployments in the subsequent 12 months. 
It all means, Sundhar said, “There will be a lot of good activity in the next 12 months. That was the interesting takeaway for us. It will be a lot of trials, a lot of proofs-of-concept.”
That activity will represent a great opportunity for companies with expertise in 5G who can advise their service-provider customers, Sundhar said. 

On the vendor side, 9 percent have commercialized 5G products, and another 25 percent plan to go to market in the next 12 months. Another 42 percent plan to release products the subsequent year. 
Some of the other key findings in the survey include: 
The top three drivers for 5G adoption are: flexible and scalable network (59 percent), customer demand (55 percent) and market leadership (46 percent).
The benefits that carriers desire most out of the evolution to 5G are higher reliability and lower latency (68 percent), flexible networking (60 percent), improved spectral efficiency (53 percent) and massive MIMO / capacity improvements (50 percent).
The two industries driving the need for 5G technology are telecom (73 percent) and technology (67 percent). Financial services ranks third at 37 percent, followed by health care, media & advertising, energy & utilities, and others.
The key barriers for 5G adoption include a lack of standards, expertise, and resources.

Brian Santo has been writing about science and technology for over 30 years, covering cable networks, broadband, wireless, the Internet of things, T&M, semiconductors, consumer electronics, and more. 

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