5G deployment numbers are growing in EMAP and SSA despite regulatory barriers

According to the latest version of Analysys Mason’s 5G deployment tracker, 20 operators worldwide commercially launched 5G networks (Figure 1). An additional 62 operators are either planning their networks or are expecting to launch by the end of 2022 or at the start of 2023. Most 5G network launches between 2019 and 2020 took place in Europe and developed Asia–Pacific. However, from 2021, operators in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Latin America and emerging Asia–Pacific (EMAP) have become increasingly active, despite regulatory barriers that have hindered deployment. To date, a lack of regulatory clarity regarding the price and availability of additional spectrum for 5G services has forced delays and the withholding of investment decisions in these regions.

Our 5G deployment tracker now includes information on the commercial 5G deployments, both planned and ongoing, of 281 operators worldwide and highlights commercially launched 5G standalone networks.

Operators in SSA are increasingly planning and trialling 5G networks

Most operators in SSA have prioritised 4G network investment and the region had just six commercial 5G networks in 2021. Large parts of SSA are affected by a lack of clarity regarding long-term licensing of 5G spectrum bands and spectrum prices, which has hindered 5G development within the region. However, countries such as Réunion, South Africa and Zimbabwe have since made progress with deploying 5G. Compared with other operators in SSA, South Africa has reasonable amounts of legacy 2G and 3G spectrum that can be refarmed to 5G technology, and this has influenced the speed of deployment.

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