Monday, 02 April 2018 22:51

World not shifting to full 5G transition in 2018, but 2019 and later

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Despite a lot of 5G hype including 5G over Wi-Fi, some telcos ambitiously claiming 4.5-like services are 5G, and 5G trials, 2018 is not the true year of 5G, according to an analyst.

In what is likely no surprise to telco executives and those who have been keeping up with 5G developments, global analyst firm GlobalData is making the statement that 2018 is not the year of 5G.

Of course, sometimes analyst firms put out seemingly obvious releases because it's important to keep one's company name in the headlines, but that said, not everyone is aware of the same information at the same time, and for anyone unsure about the 5G hype, this could well be a revelation.

So, what is GlobalData telling us?

Well, again, it won't come as a surprise to telco execs, but despite "many telecom network technology vendors claiming that the wait for fifth generation, high-speed wireless service (5G) is finally over", GlobalData states "the full transition to 5G will not happen in 2018".

Ed Gubbins, senior telecom technology & software analyst at GlobalData, said: “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.”

We're also told that "network equipment vendors have been promoting mobile base station gear as ‘pre-5G’ and ‘5G-ready’. In Q1, 2018, when vendors announced 5G base stations would be available starting later this year, the news carried more weight. This is because the industry standards groups defining 5G’s common specifications finalised the first 5G standards in December 2017, allowing vendors to bring products to market based on those standards this year".

Here, Gubbins continued: “Some mobile operators and vendors have been using the term ‘5G’ to label residential broadband services delivered over fixed, point-to-point wireless networks to users’ homes, typically handed off to Wi-Fi within the home.

“Verizon, which was early to trial this technology — based on 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.”

GlobalData tells us that "while the first big, global wave of 5G services will be aimed at consumer mobile broadband that is faster than today’s 4G, faster speeds are not exactly what separate 5G from 4G".

"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. That depends on the development of new business cases and new market adoption that the mobile industry has not seen before and does not well understand.”

Gubbins concludes: “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.

“Early 5G services are expected to launch in the US, South 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.”

So, there you have it – and let's not forget that, like all good analyst and research firms, GlobalData no doubt has plenty of relevant research and analysis for relevant parties at relevant prices. 

My own concluding statements are that with the proper 5G mobile standard for use in smartphones and tablets still not finalised, 2018 is the year of continued 5G hype and positioning by the Ericssons, Nokias, Huaweis, Qualcomms and others of the world still in play, a seeming 5G announcement a day won't keep the hype at bay, but helps to hype up and hopefully deliver, over the next few years, a massive 5G pay day!

5G is not truly here yet, but it is coming, and unless Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump throw an unexpected nuclear party that would likely put us all back into the very dark and radioactive ages with no Internet or anything good at all, the 5G revolution is utterly unstoppable, which only makes us wonder how far down the track we'll be dreaming of 6G next!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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