MWC 2021 | 5G mmWave connectivity is finally making its way Europe-wide with promises of Gigabit speeds
5G mmWave connectivity has been active in the US for a while now, even if its availability remains limited compared to 4G LTE. Numerous US cities now offer 5G mmWave, which Qualcomm claims totals over 70. All major operators now support the connectivity standard in the US, too. Similarly, all Japanese network operators now offer commercial 5G mmWave. The technology is yet to reach most of Europe and other markets, but Qualcomm insists that this is about to change.
Apparently, greater than 40 mobile operators and OEMs worldwide are currently planning to support 5G mmWave support, including in Australia, China, Europe, India, Hong Kong and South Korea, among other countries and regions. As it stands, Italy is the only European country with a 5G mmWave network, which FastWeb has operated since December 2020. However, Denmark Greece, Finland, Russia and Slovenia have already auctioned the 26 GHz band of the 5G spectrum, as have Germany and the UK to a limited extent.
Likewise, Malta, Croatia, Montenegro, Estonia, Spain and Sweden are expected to join this year, with the UK expanding its utilisation of the 26 GHz band in 2021 too. Additionally, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia plan to provision the 26 GHz band in late 2021 or 2022.
Qualcomm claims that there are already over 120 commercially available devices that support 5G mmWave. This may be the case in the US, but many manufacturers continue to ship devices without 5G mmWave antennas outside of the US. Hence, it remains to be seen what devices will support 5G mmWave through Europe in 2021 and 2022. Apple ships the iPhone 12 series without 5G mmWave antennas in Europe, but there have been hints that this could change with the iPhone 12s/13 series. Hopefully, others follow suit, too