For years 2020 was penciled in as the starting date for fifth-generation (5G) mobile network services. Helping enable the Internet of Things, smart cars and smart cities, and other technologies. It will also give struggling phone vendors a fresh opportunity to sell consumers overpriced upgrade devices, and for telcos to ramp up their bills a little for the new services.
The good news for those businesses is the 5G networks are arriving faster than expected with 5G tests in the US, UK, India with Samsung and Intel showing off at the Winter Olympics. While test sites are very different from a functional network, a lot of the back-end hardware is already rolling off the production lines.
As well as phones, Intel plans to launch the first 5G notebooks in 2019 for power-crazed commuters, and while most of these devices will actually ship closer to 2020, once the genie is out the bottle, every device that isn’t 5G will probably plummet in sales.
Are you ready for 5G?
Gossip around the tech campfire is that Apple won’t be first out of the door with a 5G device, waiting for a more mature and stable market to sell into, which won’t worry the company one bit. In the more competitive Android market, expect Samsung to be beating off the competition thanks to its firepower and industrial headstart.
As the networks roll out, it won’t be smartphones that really benefit, unless you really want to watch 4K streaming, and pay a massive data bill. Instead, 5G services will power how your smart car talks to the smart city traffic management system, how CCTV or pollution sensor networks will become very smart, and so on.
So, while you might see the usual suspects rushing to offer 5G, it will be new businesses in the background, providing all kinds of low-latency services to technology providers that might be the real winners.
YouTube: Intel 5G-Connected PC: An Early Look
Infographic: The Road to 5G
I’ve been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.