Unlike earlier network deployments, 5G not only promises higher throughput and lower latencies, but also a higher degree of automation via independent slices which are completely dedicated for specific industry use-cases. For 5G to come alive, every stakeholder across the entire 5G value chain needs to re-engineer their infrastructure to make them 5G compliant – this begins from the 5G-compliant chipset and then goes on to cover 5G-specific devices and networks. Solutions that can validate the many components across the value chain will therefore gain significant traction in the years ahead. These would include a variety of radio frequency (RF), digital, and semiconductor automated testing equipment among others. Since virtualization as well as network security will also form a crucial piece of the 5G network, equipment and solutions which can address those issues will also be important. Fiber optic testing equipment, which are nascent, should experience a significantly higher degree of growth than any other testing equipment. This is due to the integration of fixed wireless access networks which will consist of high-density fiber optic networks, which should increase significantly, hence propping up the demand for fiber optic testing equipment. A key challenge for testing vendors is the sheer cost of their equipment that their end-users have trouble contending with. Another challenge that end-users have is the lack of a solution that is truly end-to-end.
Testing vendors try to address the high cost of their test equipment via different asset optimization services which would enhance the degree of usability of the test equipment. In addition, testing equipment providers have acquired other smaller testing vendors that have the missing test piece, so as to offer a complete test solution. In 2018, South Korea was the first country to announce that it has commercially rolled out 5G services. Until that point, a lot of the preceding 5G testing activities were purely for developing the 5G network. While testing of equipment for the mass-scale manufacturing of 5G devices and network equipment has begun, there is still a lot of demand for testing equipment that can still be used for research & development of the other 5G use-cases which make complete automation possible, and also facilitate the transition from a non-standalone to a completely standalone 5G network. The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region leads the 5G testing market; it is not only home to South Korea, which first rolled out the network, but also houses many semiconductor manufacturers who play a vital role in the 5G ecosystem.