I am trying to understand why operators would go for 5G NSA besides the obvious bragging rights to having 5G.
Even if the 5G NR improves performance on the radio, the capacity through the core would still be limited to present 4G limits. So what then is the benefit for consumers with 5G NSA?
depends, do you mean 5G DSS in NSA or 700 and 3GHz+ bands in NSA.
If operator only deploys NSA DSS over existing 4G layer, then it is purely just bragging rights.
If operator is deploying new 5G N78 (3.4-3.8GHz) or 700MHz band over the network footprint, then there is coverage/capacity benefit despite being NSA.
Overall, 5G rollouts began couple years ago and back then 5G core wasn’t ready yet(3GPP standardization, vendor implementations), therefore operators had to start with NSA anyway.