According to GlobalData, the so-called 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.
The company says the hype around 5G has been building for so long that it can be easy to forget that it will not become widely commercially available until 2019 at the earliest.
“Even then, uptake will be minimal” – just 0.09% of all mobile data traffic will be carried over 5G by the end of 2019, according to the company’s Global Mobile Broadband Forecast.
“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.”
GlobalData observes that the last few years have seen significant investment in 5G, both by the telecoms sector and government agencies, but says that articulating exactly what 5G will offer the consumer, beyond simply increased download speeds, remains a struggle.
According to GlobalData, the most commonly cited use cases for 5G include enabling autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things and smart cities, but that these all require “more than just fast, responsive networks if they are to become pervasive”.
“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,” Thomas warns.
“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.”