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As operators in developing nations switched on their networks in the second half of 2022, commercial 5G launches recovered, according to S&P Global. According to Kagan's 5G Tracker, at least 238 mobile carriers servicing 94 markets globally had started offering 5G services by the end of 2022.

Twenty-four new operators were reportedly added to this list in the second half of 2022, according to S&P Global. Since the tracking of 5G launches began in 2018, Africa has had nine new launches. These have included Telkom in South Africa, Vodacom Group in Tanzania, Unitel in Angola, Societe Francaise de Radiotelephone (SFR) in Reunion, Orange in Botswana, Safaricom in Kenya and MTN Group in Zambia and Nigeria.

The government has provided considerable assistance for the African markets that have already started commercial 5G services, especially in the release of the spectrum and the promotion of a transparent, forward-looking regulatory environment, S&P Global noted.

S&P Global further predicted that emerging regions in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America will lead launches in the coming months because most operators in developed markets have already delivered commercial 5G services.

The recent launch of Vodafone Group in Tanzania increased its global 5G presence to 15 markets, according to S&P Global, maintaining its position as the top 5G operator globally. Vodafone is transitioning from initial non-stand-alone (NSA) to stand-alone (SA) deployments alongside other multinational operators, including CK Hutchison Holdings and Orange SA.

5G SA is a 5G solution that employs only a 5G core network and does not rely on 4G LTE network control features for data transport or signaling.

By the end of 2022, at least 48 operators had launched commercial SA 5G networks across 30 markets. SA 5G has already been introduced by primary US carriers AT&T, DISH Network, T-Mobile US and Verizon Communications, as well as mainland Chinese carriers China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom Corp. Major operators have also introduced SA 5G in other markets, such as Singapore, Brazil, Canada, Italy and Japan.

Cost and ease of deployment are the main factors in favor of NSA 5G over SA. S&P Global claims that it is less expensive and simpler to implement because NSA can connect to the 5G radio access network (RAN) using an existing 4G core network.

On the other hand, the specialized 5G core network used by SA 5G requires more significant expenditures for new equipment and infrastructure. Some operators use the deployment of NSA 5G as a tactic to determine the level of 5G demand before investing in the construction of a SA network.


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