Published on October 28th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
A Quick 5G Guide: Separating Reality from Hype
It isn’t hard to find a tech company touting 5G for networks, devices or platforms. Jeremy Horwitz of VentureBeat provides some guidance on what is reality and and what is hype in 5G promises. There is no doubt 5G is going to be transformative in business, gaming and retail – really everything. Large amounts of data moving at instantaneous speeds opens up all new avenues of communicating and getting things done. The businesses that take advantage of the potential the quickest will most likely reap big benefits.
Photo Source: Jeremy Horwitz/VentureBeat (Above: Verizon’s booth at MWC Los Angeles offered more concrete examples of how 5G will be used than any other exhibitor at the show.)
Exactly one year ago, I wrote about the onset of “fake 5G news” — the increasing use of 5G as a buzzword to attract attention to otherwise non-5G products and services, which was already happening before 5G devices became available. Back then, Xiaomi lured media to an event for “the world’s first 5G commercial mobile phone,” then instead showed off a 4G phone with the promise to be first to 5G in 2019 — something that didn’t happen, as its Mi Mix 3 5G wound up shipping in May. Just as predicted, their “world’s first” claim was all hype.
On a positive note, 5G has become so real over the past year that there isn’t a need to focus on stories like Xiaomi’s any more: Every week brings plenty of actual developments that are worth reading about. But there’s still a lot of quasi-5G news out there, and the line between what’s real and what’s hype isn’t as sharp as it could be.
So here’s a quick guide to where things stand with real 5G and 5G hype as we head into the end of 2019. It’s based on the very latest information I’ve gathered from multiple companies in the 5G space, as well as my own experiences and hands-on tests.
Live 5G networks: Real
You can debate how widespread or performant they are, but there are now live 5G networks all over the world, and coverage continues to improve every week. Three of the top four U.S. carriers are already offering consumer 5G service in multiple cities, generally at speeds that blow 4G away, and 5G has already launched in parts of Europe, Asia, and Australia — often with even better average speeds than U.S. users are seeing.
5G might not be in your neighborhood, city, or country yet, but it’s coming; expect additional 5G launches before the end of the year. The only question is how much faster it will actually be than 4G when it arrives for you, and the answer is likely to be “6 to 7 times” better on average, with peaks from 10 to 30 times better than 2018/2019-vintage 4G.
Actual 5G devices: Real
Globally, there are 20 or so actual 5G devices available for purchase as of today. Smartphones are probably the best known and most popular, but there are also multiple 5G hotspots and 5G broadband modems (known as “consumer premises equipment” or CPEs). In the United States, Verizon alone is currently selling three 5G phones, two 4G phones with an optional 5G backpack, one hotspot, and multiple 5G CPEs for home use. Some European and Asian carriers are now offering five or six different 5G phones, including models that aren’t available in the U.S., and China is soon expected to have an even wider array of options.