Timeline of 5G
The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:
- Which companies pioneer the technology development and network launch of the 5G generation?
- Which countries and cities are the first to adopt 5G?
- Which are some notable 5G-related products (handsets, modems) launched or to be released?
- What are some indicative figures on 5G userbase and market penetration?
|Key year||Development summary|
|2017||77 operators in 49 countries complete 5G trials. The non-standalone (NSA) mode of 5G NR specifications are approved by 3GPP.|
|2018||"South Korea: Preview (Winter Olympics)" 3GPP approves standard frozen.|
|Time period||Cellular network generation||Development summary|
|1979–1991||1G||Exclusive period of the first generation of wireless cellular technology, starting with the first commercially automated cellular network launched in Japan by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in 1979. In 1981, the Nordic Mobile Telephone system simultaneously launches in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.|
|1991–onwards||2G||Second generation cellular network lifetime, first commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja.|
|2000–onwards||3G||Third generation lifetime of wireless mobile telecommunications technology, starting with the first commercial 3G networks introduced in 2000.|
|2009–onwards||4G||Fourth generation lifetime of wireless mobile telecommunications technology, starting with the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard commercially deployed in Oslo and Stockholm in 2009.|
|2019||5G||5G is first deployed in South Korea, followed by the United States.|
|Key country||5G development|
|South Korea||South Korea is recognized as the world's first country to roll out 5G.|
|Year||Month and date||Event type||Organization||Details||Country/location|
|2008||April||Partnership||NASA, Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp||NASA partners with Geoff Brown and Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp to develop 5G communications technology.||United States|
|2012||August||Research and development||NYU WIRELESS||New York University founds NYU WIRELESS, a multi-disciplinary academic research center that has conducted pioneering work in 5G wireless communications.||United States|
|2012||October 8||Research and development||University of Surrey||The UK's University of Surrey secures £35million for a new 5G research center, jointly funded by the British government's UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) and a consortium of key international mobile operators and infrastructure providers, including Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde & Schwarz, and Aircom International. It aims at offering testing facilities to mobile operators keen to develop a mobile standard that uses less energy and less radio spectrum while delivering speeds faster than current 4G with aspirations for the new technology to be ready within a decade.||United Kingdom|
|2012||November 1||Program launch||The EU project "Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society" (METIS) starts its activity towards the definition of 5G. METIS achieves an early global consensus on these systems. In this sense, METIS plays an important role of building consensus among other external major stakeholders prior to global standardization activities. This is done by initiating and addressing work in relevant global fora (e.g. ITU-R), as well as in national and regional regulatory bodies.||European Union|
|2012||November||Program launch||The iJOIN EU project is launched, focusing on "small cell" technology, which is of key importance for taking advantage of limited and strategic resources, such as the radio wave spectrum. According to Günther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society (2014–2019), "an innovative utilization of spectrum" is one of the key factors at the heart of 5G success. Oettinger further describes it as "the essential resource for the wireless connectivity of which 5G will be the main driver".||European Union|
|2013||May 12||Research and development||Samsung||Samsung Electronics announces development of a "5G" system. The core technology has a maximum speed of tens of Gbit/s (gigabits per second). In testing, the transfer speeds for the "5G" network sends data at 1.056 Gbit/s to a distance of up to 2 kilometers with the use of an 8*8 MIMO.||South Korea|
|2013||July||Partnership||India and Israel agree to work jointly on development of fifth generation (5G) telecom technologies.||India, Israel|
|2013||October 1||Recognition||Nippon Telegraph and Telephone||NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) wins Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Award at CEATEC for its 5G R&D efforts.||Japan|
|2013||November 6||Research and development||Huawei||Huawei announces plans to invest a minimum of $600 million into R&D for next generation 5G networks capable of speeds 100 times faster than modern LTE networks.||China|
|2016||July||Policy||FCC||The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frees up vast amounts of bandwidth in underused high-band spectrum for 5G. The Spectrum Frontiers Proposal (SFP) doubles the amount of millimeter-wave unlicensed spectrum to 14GHz and creates four times the amount of flexible, mobile-use spectrum the FCC has licensed to date.||United States|
|2016||AT&T||AT&T starts conducting 5G field trials with mmWave spectrum.||United States|
|2017||December||Network standard||3GPP||The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) approves NSA 5G NR specifications.|
|2018||March||Network standard||3GPP||The 3rd Generation Partnership Project approves standard frozen.|
|2018||May||Network launch||STC Group||STC Group launches its first live 5G network in Saudi Arabia (The first in the MENA region) after completing the testing and trial phase.||Saudi Arabia|
|2018||June||Network standard||3GPP||The 3rd Generation Partnership Project approves SA 5G NR specifications.|
|2018||June||Network launch||Elisa||Finnish telecom operator Elisa launches the world’s first commercial 5G networks in Tampere and Tallinn.||Finland, Estonia|
|2018||September||Network standard||3GPP||The 3rd Generation Partnership Project approves Standard frozen.|
|2018||September||Program launch||FCC||The United States Federal Communications Commission announces its 5G FAST Plan in an effort to advance the country’s position among the countries that have deployed 5G networks. Part of this plan includes spectrum auctions.||United States|
|2018||October 1||Network launch||Verizon||Verizon launches new 5G fixed–wireless access (FWA) service, starting in certain neighbourhoods of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. The company is the first to have a non-standards-based deployment, that is actually a fixed broadband network.||United States|
|2018||December||Network launch||AT&T||AT&T becomes the first United States carrier to launch a standards-based mobile 5G network servicing a dozen cities, albeit without any 5G-enabled devices.||United States|
|2019||February||Technology milestone||A team of doctors at Hospital Clinic Barcelona carries out the world’s first 5G-powered telementored operation (removal of a cancerous tumor from a patient's colon), with surgeon overseeing the procedure at over three miles away.||Spain|
|2019||March||Product launch||Global Mobile Suppliers Association||The Global Mobile Suppliers Association releases the industry's first database tracking worldwide 5G device.|
|2019||March||Network launch||Verizon||Verizon activates its standards-based 5G network in Minneapolis and Chicago, before mobile 5G devices are available.||United States|
|2019||March 30||Network launch||Shanghai starts both 5G coverage and broadband gigabit network trial runs, backed by Chinese telecom giant China Mobile.||China|
|2019||April 3||Technology milestone||South Korea becomes the first country to adopt 5G. Just hours later, Verizon launches its 5G services in the United States. Back in South Korea, the three main telecommunication companies (SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus) add more than 40,000 users to their 5G network on the launch day.||South Korea|
|2019||April||Product launch||Samsung||Samsung announces having started mass production for its 5G chips. Among the new chip offerings is the Exynos Modem 5100, which contains a 5G multi-mode chipset.||South Korea|
|2019||May 16||Product launch||Verizon||Verizon begins selling Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.||United States|
|2019||May 24||Network launch||Telstra||Australian network operator Telstra launches limited 5G services in the country with a device that customers can use to connect other devices.||Australia|
|2019||May 30||Network launch||EE Limited||Mobile network operator EE Limited launches first 5G consumer mobile network in the United Kingdom in select locations in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.||United Kingdom|
|2019||May 30||Network launch||Etisalat||Emirati multinational Etisalat launches 5G commercial service in the United Arab Emirates, along with ZTE 5G smartphone.||United Arab Emirates|
|2019||June 5||Network launch||Batelco||Batelco becomes the first to launch a commercial 5G network in Bahrain.||Bahrain|
|2019||June 6||Partnership||Huawei||Huawei signs a deal with Russian network provider MTS to develop a 5G network in the country over the next year.||China, Russia|
|2019||June 15||Network launch||Huawei, Vodafone||Huawei and Vodafone roll out in collaboration the first commercial 5G mobile services in Spain, making it one of the first European countries with the ultrafast mobile network in Europe.||Spain|
|2019||June 19||Network launch||STC Group||STC Group becomes the first operator to launch 5G commercial services in Saudi Arabia, making it available to customers in a number of cities in the Kingdom. The service uses Ericsson commercial hardware.||Saudi Arabia|
|2019||June 27||Network launch||Ericsson, RCS & RDS||Ericsson and Romanian operator RCS & RDS launch Romania’s first 5G commercial service in the busiest parts of Bucharest.||Romania|
|2019||June||Userbase||South Korea reaches over one million 5G subscribers.||South Korea|
|2019||June||Infrastructure||Qualcomm||American tech company Qualcomm starts construction of a 5G center in Taipei. 5G service is expected to be available in Taiwan by January 2020, according to Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai.||Taiwan|
|2019||July 9||Network launch||Huawei, Monaco Telecom||Monaco Telecom launches its 5G network covering the entire city area in conjunction with the presentation of the commercial offer. The microstate becomes the first in the world to have to have full, operational 5G coverage. The network is built by Huawei.||Monaco|
|2019||July 16||Network launch||SK Telecom, Swisscom||SK Telecom and Swisscom launch 5G roaming services for Koreans visiting Switzerland.||Switzerland|
|2019||July 18||Product launch||Verizon||Verizon announces 5G hotspot, the Inseego 5G MiFi M1000, at a cost of around US$600.|
|2019||July 26||Infrastructure||Telecom Italia, Vodafone||Telecom Italia and Vodafone agree to merge their mobile tower infrastructure and to jointly roll out 5G in Italy.||Italy|
|2019||August 5||Product launch||ZTE||ZTE releases the first 5G phone in China with the launch of the Axon 10 Pro 5G t, which comes equipped with a 6.47-inch 1080p AMOLED display, and will use one of Qualcomm’s first generation X50 5G modems to connect to China’s upcoming 5G wireless network.||China|
|2019||August 5||Network launch||Ericsson, Vodafone||Ericsson and Vodafone launch in Germany a commercial 5G network using Ericsson products and solutions, with their sights set on bringing 5G to 20 million people in the country by the end of 2021.||Germany|
|2019||August 6||Network launch||AT&T||AT&T rolls out limited 5G in parts of New York City, but only accessible to business customers and developers. As of date, AT&T lags behind Verizon, which offers 5G services in nine cities.||United States|
|2019||August 8||Network launch||Ericsson, Tele2||Ericsson and Tele2 launch Russia's first 5G zone in central Moscow. Ericsson provides the equipment for the network, which is run by Tele2.||Russia|
|2019||August 13||Network launch||Vodafone||Vodafone launches 5G services in five Irish cities: Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.||Ireland|
|2019||September 1||Network launch||Huawei||Huawei deploys 5G In Russia.||Russia|
|2019||September 2||Partnership||Iliad SA, Nokia||French telecommunications provider Iliad SA announces partnership with Nokia as for 5G network deployments in France and Italy.||France, Italy|
|2019||September 3||Product launch||Samsung||Samsung announces the launch of its first SoC that integrates 5G connectivity. The device, called Exynos 980, combines a 5G modem and mobile application processor into one chip, thus increasing power efficiency and occupying less space within smartphones compared to older generation SoCs.|
|2019||September 5||Network launch||Verizon||Verizon launches 5G in National Football League stadiums across the United States, with 13 expected to be live by the start of the 2019-20 football season. Attendees would still need to have a 5G compatible phone to access the 5G networks, which can download data 10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G LTE connection.||United States|
|2019||September 6||Product launch||Qualcomm||American company Qualcomm announces expansion of its 5G modems across its Snapdragon 8 series, 7 series and 6 series processors.||United States|
|2019||September 9||Public reception||Several hundred people demonstrate in The Hague against the arrival of 5G mobile phone networks in the Netherlands, and call for the government to reduce the level of permitted radiation from the new generation mobile phones, improve privacy regulations and assess the effect on the climate.||Netherlands|
|2019||September 9||Partnership||Samsung, SK Telecom||Samsung announces partnership with SK Telecom to develop and commercialize the world's first 8K-5G TV. The device is expected to offer ultra-high resolution screen that is also capable of extremely fast connection speeds, enabling users to download VR and other data-heavy content.||South Korea|
|2019||September 16||Acquisition||Qualcomm||Qualcomm announces full acquisition of RF360 (a joint venture between TDK and Qualcomm) in order to boost content in 5G smartphones.|
|2019||September 18||Network launch||Rain||South African data-only operator Rain launches a commercial 5G wireless home broadband service in parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane, the first 5G network in the country.||South Africa|
|2019||September 19||Product launch||Huawei||Huawei launches a new 5G flagship smartphone lineup without pre-installed Google-licensed apps.||China|
|2019||October 8||Contract||Telia||Ericsson is selected by service provider Telia as its sole 5G radio access network (RAN) vendor for Telia's next-generation nationwide network in Norway. 5G rollouts are expected to start in 2020 and extend through 2023.||Norway|
|2019||October||Network launch||Eir||Irish broadband telecommunications company Eir launches 5G in Ireland with help from Ericsson’s 5G core. The network is expected to cover up to 110 towns and cities around the country in a number of weeks.||Ireland|
|2019||November 1||Network launch||China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom||China state carriers China Mobile (CHL), China Telecom (CHA) and China Unicom (CHU) formally announce the rollout of 5G service, laying out their price plans and data speeds. All three offer 5G plans that start at 128 yuan (US$18) for 30 GB of data per month.||China|
|2019||November 11||Contract||Zain Group, Ericsson||Kuwaiti mobile telecommunications company Zain Group announces having selected Ericsson to build its 5G network in Bahrain, with the first commercial 5G services expected to go live before the end of 2019.||Bahrain|
|2019||November 14||Contract||Ericsson||MTN South Africa selects Ericsson as a 5G network modernization vendor. Ericsson would supply 5G products and solutions from its Radio Access Network (RAN), transport and Core portfolios, with commercial rollout expected to start in 2020.||South Africa|
|2019||November 15||Technology||Samsung, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Openet||Samsung Electronics, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and software vendor Openet announce the successful integration of a cloud-native 5G standalone (SA) Core with multivendor interoperability. The test features the integration of Samsung’s control, user plane network function, and orchestrator with HPE’s shared data environment and network functions, and Openet’s cloud-native network functions software. A 5G SA core would allow operators to offer many of the new services considered paramount to 5G, including network slicing, mobile edge computing, analytics driven by artificial intelligence, and ultra-low latency networks.||South Korea|
|2019||November 19||Network launch||Verizon||Verizon ads 5G network to Boston, Houston and Sioux Falls, bringing the total number of cities with the carrier’s next-generation network to 18.||United States|
|2019||November 20||Network launch||EE Limited||EE Limited announces having switched on 5G technology in 14 new cities and towns across the United Kingdom, adding the service to Castlereagh, Guildford, Hamilton, Harlow, Hoddesdon, Kimberley, Lisburn, Maidstone, Sydenham, Watford and Wolverhampton, as well as Liverpool, Glasgow and Huddersfield.||United Kingdom|
|2019||November 21||Infrastructure||As of date, China has 113,000 5G base stations.||China|
|2019||December 3||Network launch||T-Mobile||T-Mobile announces the launch of its nationwide 5G network in the United States, becoming the first American carrier to offer 5G access across the country. The network is expected to cover more than 200 million people and more than 1 million square miles.||United States|
|2019||December 10||Technology milestone||Ericsson||Australian telecommunications company Optus claims to have made the world’s first 5G data call using lower frequency 2.3 GHz spectrum in a trial completed in Sydney using kit from Ericsson. The lower frequency is expected ultimately to offer even greater speeds as well as providing greater coverage depth enabling even more customers to benefit from 5G services.||Australia|
|2019||December 11||Partnership||Nokia||Nokia announces development of a strategic partnership ecosystem to bring local 5G/private wireless LTE to industrial and government customers in Japan.||Japan|
|2019||December 11||Research and development||SK Telecom, Samsung Heavy Industries||South Korean SK Telecom and Samsung Heavy Industries announce joint development of a 5G-based autonomous platform for testing of the technology. The test ship, built by SHI, is equiped with remote control capabilities, 5G-based Lidar, a cloud-based IoT platform and real-time video monitoring from SK Telecom.||South Korea|
|2019||December 11||Network launch||Deutsche Telekom||Deutsche Telekom launches commercial 5G services in Hamburg.||Germany|
|2020||January 17||Network launch||Uganda trials network and becomes the first country in East Africa to adopt 5G technology.||Uganda|
|2020||July||Network launch||NTT Docomo||NTT Docomo plans to have 5G base stations in all 47 Japanese prefectures by this time.||Japan|
|2021||Spring||Network launch||NTT Docomo||NTT Docomo plans to reach a total of 10,000 5G base stations by this time.||Japan|
|2024||Userbase||5G subscriptions are expected to reach 1.5 billion by this time, with US$301 billion in revenue, driven predominantly by high demand for faster speeds, according to September 2019 research from GlobalData. The Asia Pacific region is expected to be the biggest market.|
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