US, Singapore and Finland score highest for 5G readiness

US, Singapore and Finland score highest for 5G readiness Duncan is an award-winning technology industry analyst, specialising in cloud computing, blockchain, martech and edge computing.


Global consultancy partnership Kearney has released new data showing global readiness for widespread 5G usage.

The Kearney 5G Readiness Index 2023 analyses how far countries have developed on the 5G journey and how close they are to unlocking all the benefits of 5G, considering the overall maturity of the region’s telecom market and socio-economic context. The research encompassed 33 countries, limited to those that launched 5G by Q3 2022.

The 2023 edition noted an increase in readiness for every country included, with the average readiness score compared to 2022 rising 10% across the globe.

The US, higher-GDP Asian nations and Northern European countries continue to develop the fastest on the road to 5G, with Western Europe and the Middle East following and developing Asian and Eastern European countries developing more slowly.

Key trends included:

  • In addition to greater 5G presentation, scores rose due to more operators launching standalone networks. Seventeen countries now have at least one operator with a standalone 5G core, compared to only 11 in 2022
  • Movement in mmWave remains slow, compounded by slow adoption of compatible devices. 14 countries in 2023 have made spectrum in that band available to operators, compared to 11 in 2022
  • Two thirds of countries in 2023 have at least one operator with speed-differentiated tariffs
  • Operators in 25 markets now offer 5G private networks or multi-access edge computing, but only the United States and Singapore demonstrate true innovation through 5G-focused APIs and active ecosystem development

Whilst the telecoms industry has previously been considered notably risk-averse, reluctance to engage with the opportunities offered by 5G has led to risk inversion, whereby risk increases that operators will become customer of others’ innovations rather than profiting from their own offering.

Jesper Larsson, Partner at Kearney, said: “A 10% average increase in 5G readiness over the past year is a positive sign of engagement from global telecoms operators, but this figure will not be enough to see the industry truly embrace the potential of the technology and opportunities it presents. Risk inversion is the key term, meaning operators that are hoping to wait out the risks will only see their inactivity create new problems as competitors edge ahead.

“5G offers a huge advantage in enabling operators to open their networks to external innovators and third-party developers. Finding new and exciting partners may be the key to unlocking innovation necessary to avoid the risks of falling behind.”

Nikolai Dobberstein, Partner at Kearney, said: “Rather than maintaining the status quo and operating within the comfort of the usual, it’s time for telecoms businesses to be bold, lead from the front and offer radically new services such as subscriptions to optimised videoconferencing via slicing, or on-the-spot boosts such as low latency for gaming. Significantly, these services could increase a revenue stream.

“The market leaders will be those that explore these options while taking a minimum viable product to market and iterating until higher monetisation levels are reached. Going slowly to avoid failure will not set an operator apart from the crowd.”

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