Don’t Wait for 5G Shift in 2018

5G, is here. Well, it is what many telecom network technology vendors are claiming.

But according to data and analytics firm GlobalData, the fifth generation, high-speed wireless service (5G) may be here, but the full transition will not occur this year. 

"There are differing perspectives over whether 5G is finally here. For vendors selling 5G gear, basically, it is. For consumers, depending on where in the world they live, it's coming soon. But for operators – in the sense that really matters to them, namely new revenue and profit – the wait will continue," Ed Gubbins, Senior Telecom Technology & Software Analyst at GlobalData said in a press release.

In Q1, 2018, when vendors announced 5G base stations would be available starting later this year, it grabbed attention. GlobalData noted that this is because the industry standards groups defining 5G’s common specifications finalized the first 5G standards in December 2017, allowing vendors to bring products to market based on those standards this year.

"Verizon, which was early to trial this technology – based on the high-frequency millimeter-wave spectrum – has been particularly vocal about promoting this as ‘5G,' since it allows it to claim it's providing 5G service earlier than its competitors. Likewise, suppliers of the wireless networking gear for these rollouts are keen to call it 5G.  However, today's 4G LTE subscribers will generally think of true 5G not as a fixed, but as a mobile service," Gubbins said.

Perceptions also need to change. First and foremost, faster speeds are not exactly what separate 5G from 4G. Instead, the “real defining promise of 5G is to allow operators to connect both people and machines with a common network, thereby attaining greater efficiency and profitability than any previous generation,” the press release noted. 

New business cases and new market adoption that the mobile industry had not seen before and did not thoroughly understand need to happen, Gubbins observed.

“Smartphones that support 5G are not expected until 2019. Though some operators, such as AT&T, have promised to roll out 5G service sooner, it can only be delivered to less popular devices like mobile hotspot ‘pucks’ and ‘dongles’ – mere preludes to the mass market,” Gubbins said.

"Early 5G services are expected to launch in the US, Korea, Japan, and China, primarily due to a mix of consumer demand, competitive pressure and 4G network maturity in those markets.  Once this happens and 5G devices spread, then 5G can be said to finally be here," he added.