ABI Research shows that China is still far and away the global leader in 5G standalone (SA), with a massive deployment from Jio in India possibly coming into play later in 2023.

Don Alusha, a senior analyst in the telco digitization practice at ABI checked in with Silverlinings recently about the China’s current dominance over 5G SA.

The reason for the 5G SA lead is because the Chinese government and operators settled on the pure 5G standard early on. “In China, it has been mandatory for 5G devices to be SA-capable since early 2020, and since February 2021, both new and existing 5G devices are on SA by default. 5G network traffic has increased due to continued 5G subscriber uptake, plus part of the 4G traffic is moving to [the 5G core],” Alusha said.

“All three CSPs in China have opted to build a distributed and integrated 5G [user-plane],” Alusha continued. “CSPs in the Chinese market seek to close [non-standalone 5G networks] as soon as possible for operational efficiencies.”

“So China is making an aggressive shift toward 5G SA-only networks,” the analyst said. “Chinese CSPs have a very aggressive strategy in place to adopt 5GC to propel the digital agenda of the local domestic industry. CSPs in China appear to change their organisational structure to better monetise 5G and build an ecosystem of supporting products and services.”

India rising

Rather than North American or European operators, the analyst is expecting Jio in India to potentially deliver the largest 5G SA network in 2023. “Jio in India, according to discussions early in the year, claims to be on the path to build what it highlights will be the largest 5G SA network in the world going into second half of 2023,” Alusha said.

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