The ‘race to 5G’ has moved beyond the telecoms industry and become a priority for governments around the world, but it remains unclear whether the end result will ultimately be worth the effort, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The company’s latest report, ‘5G - Thematic Research’, states that the hype around 5G has been building for so long now that it can be easy to forget that it will not become widely commercially available, at the earliest, until 2019. Even then, uptake will be minimal — just 0.09 percent of all mobile data traffic will be carried over 5G by the end of 2019, according to GlobalData’s Global Mobile Broadband Forecast.
The last few years have seen significant investment in 5G, both by the telecoms sector and government agencies. However, articulating exactly what 5G will offer the consumer, beyond simply increased download speeds, remains a struggle. The most commonly cited use cases for 5G include enabling autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities, but these all require more than just fast, responsive networks if they are to become pervasive.
Ed Thomas, Senior Analyst for Technology Thematic Research at GlobalData, said that plenty of people, inside and outside of the telecoms industry, are continuing to beat the drum for 5G, but dissenting voices are growing in volume. They fear that the positioning of 5G as a revolutionary technology that will enable fundamental shifts in how we live and work has served to raise expectations to such a level that the only possible outcome is disappointment. With 5G services expected to become widely available in some countries next year, the lack of a killer use case could yet have serious implications for demand. The question of what 5G is actually for needs to be answered, and soon, if 5G is to have any chance of living up to the hype.
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