My take is that none of the five network vendors is ahead, but Ericsson certainly is starting to see results from concentrating on 5G.  Frederico Rigoni, their Italian lead, is showing a new swagger after a profitable quarter. He tells Mila Fiordalisi of CorCom, "Ericsson is first in the world on 5G."  He believes Ericsson's market share has recently climbed from 28% to 30%, partly on strength in the U.S. They've raised their R & D spending from 14.4% to 18.8%, almost all on wireless. Ericsson scored a major victory at Telstra, staving off Nokia.

"On the network front everything is ready for 5G." Rigoni is hopeful of significant sales in 2019. "We are receiving requests from other operators of our customers to accelerate the planned roadmap." Like everyone else, he's waiting on phones.

I'm skeptical of claims like this because each of the vendors can find a way to say they are first. Huawei, with a US$15 billion research budget has by far the broadest line.  Their Finnish deployment at Elisa went commercial before Verizon and I have data. Samsung pioneered 5G research back in 2011. Nokia is always a contender. ZTE wins contracts over Huawei in China. Chinese government banks have poured in US$10 billion to make sure the company thrives. They will have the greatest growth, 2019 over 2018.

Rigoni made a possibly misleading comment. "There is no doubt that mobile data traffic grows year by year in an incredible way. Worldwide there was 52% more traffic than last year." One of the key factors for the industry in Europe and the U.S. is that growth is slowing. Cisco expects it to fall to 30% in the U.S. in 2021. VP Thomas Noren's claim, "Traffic continues to double every 18 months," no longer applies in the U.S. or most of Europe. Italy, where Xavi is an aggressive 4th operator, could be an exception.

Finding enough customers is far more important than building capacity at most telcos today.  

dave ask

Newsfeed

The 3.3-4.2 spectrum should be shared, not exclusively used by one company, concludes an important U.S. Defense Innovation Board report. If more wireless broadband is important, sharing is of course right because shared networks can yield far more

It does work! Verizon's mmWave tests over a gigabit in the real world. 
The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro outclasses the best Apples and probably the new Galaxy 10 or Huawei P30 Pro. Optical zoom, three cameras, liquid cooling, Qualcomm 855 and more.
Korea at 400,000 5G May 15. Chinese "pre-commercial" signing customers, 60,000-120,000 base stations in 2019, million+ remarkable soon. 
5G phones Huawei Mate 20, Samsung Galaxy 10, ZTE Nubia, LG V50, and OPPO are all on sale at China Unicom. All cost US$1,000 to 1,500 before subsidy. Xiaomi promises US$600.
Natural monopoly? Vodafone & Telecom Italia to share 5G, invite all other companies to join.
Huawei predicts 5G phones for US$200 in 2021, $300 even earlier
NY Times says "5G is dangerous" is a Russian plot. Really.
Althiostar raised US$114 million for a virtual RAN system in the cloud. Rakuten, Japan's new #4, is using it and invested.
Ireland is proposing a US$3 billion subsidy for rural fibre that will be much too expensive. Politics.
Telefonica Brazil has 9M FTTH homes passed and will add 6M more within two years. Adjusted for population, that's more than the U.S. The CEO publicly urged other carriers to raise prices together.
CableLabs and Cisco have developed Low Latency XHaul (LLX) with 5-15 ms latency for 5G backhaul,  U.S. cable is soon to come in very strong in wireless. Details 
Korea Telecom won 100,000 5G customers in the first month. SK & LG added 150,000 more. KT has 37,500 cells. planning 90% of the country by yearend. 
The Chinese giants expect 60,000 to 90,000 5G cells by the end of 2019.
China Telecom's Yang Xin warns, "Real large-scale deployment of operators' edge computing may be after 2021." Customers are hard to find.
Reliance Jio registered 97.5% 4G availability across India in Open Signal testing. Best in world.

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Welcome On Oct 1, 2019 Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual early results have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while reducing capex. Deutsche Telekom and Orange/France Telecom also confirm they won't raise capex.

Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 3X to 7X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM, and other tools double and triple that. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year.

Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less.  I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

Believe it or not, 80% of 5G (mid-band) for several years will be slower than good 4G, which is more developed.