Is 2021 the Year of 5G?
The momentum of 5G was high at the beginning of 2020, but then COVID-19 hit which inevitably slowed the progress of building out the required 5G infrastructure. However, despite the global setbacks the world experienced due to COVID-19, cell carriers offering 5G technology did continue to show resiliency in 2020 and find a way to move forward. CNET reported that sales projections from 5G carriers in 2020 were met, despite COVID-related market disruption. Industry experts say there has been a lot of movement toward 5G overall, but not the widespread impact that was predicted at the beginning of 2020. Is 2021 the year when 5G will take off? PwC thinks so. They predict by early 2021 nearly 75% of the U.S. consumer population will have access to 5G either at home or in the office.
What’s Left with Getting Society to 5G
The complexity of building a 5G network is much more than an incremental lift from 4G. A 5G-enabled network has a higher network density than any other previous wireless network, and with this comes increasing infrastructure cost, operational and regulatory challenges during the build-out that simply weren’t there for 4G. There is also massive investment required to make 5G a reality, and part of the cost is to retool current telecom operating models that are designed to handle the 4G infrastructure. In addition, the U.S. trade negotiations with China has had an impact on 5G progress. Chinese imports to the US now face more restrictions and tariffs yet at the same time U.S. telecom has to date been heavily reliant on China-based supplier vendors. Lastly, a critical piece to the 5G puzzle is having 5G capable smartphones that can reap the benefit of a 5G network. And right now it is estimated that less than 10% of the population have phones that are 5G capable.
The Promise of 5G
When we get there, experts tell us that the benefits of 5G promise to deliver us capabilities we have not previously been able to take advantage of. Expanded network bandwidth and speed will pave the way for new opportunities for AI, autonomous cars and more. 5G can also enhance and/or enable the true real-time collection and capture of information from real-time internet of things (IoT) devices, such as smart street lamps traffic lights, security cameras, and sensors on heavy industrial equipment that can alert us to internal stresses in the equipment before a human operator could even realize they exist. Watch for automakers like Volkswagon to move their robotic networks onto 5G in the coming months to make them more responsive. Consumers will also see lower latency with gaming and video live streaming. There also is likely to be expanded wireless network coverage, something that will be highly beneficial for many rural communities that lack adequate wireless coverage and are currently unable to take advantage of value-added services being offered through wireless networks like telemedicine. Thus the benefits are considerable across the board in terms of what will be possible when 5G becomes the new network standard.
How Far on the Horizon is 5G to be the New Standard?
Industry experts continue to report that 5G is on the horizon for all of us. How far on the horizon is still unclear. When 5G does finally gets here, it’s going to speed up everything. And with the advent of COVID-19 vaccines and with them hope for the future and a world getting back to ‘normal’, we can likely to expect a giant leap forward in 2021 towards 5G.
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