One of the more challenging scenarios of the 5G ecosystem is whether all the hype about 5G will be effective at the consumer level. As I have said, 5G promises to be everything for everyone. However, there may be a hidden pitfall in all of this. With most emerging/evolving technologies, if they are not specifically focused at business, or government, the enterprise or such, the consumer is the decisive element in deciding if a technology or product will survive, or how long it will take before it goes mainstream.
Saying that, I am not implying that 5G will sink or swim on the consumer’s back – it will deploy, regardless. Moreover, the consumer willget on board. However, the timing, hardware/software, devices, deployment, costs, and everything else in the 5G wheelhouse will be affected by the consumer’s pace of acceptance and immersion. The consumer will be the determining factor for 5G reaching maximum velocity.
The enterprise end of 5G will evolve (as will the complete ecosystem regardless) but it is more case driven and its evolution is much more predictable and paced. The consumer segment will bring in the biggest ROI and will be the real regulator for the deployment evolution of the global 5G ecosystem.
I mention that because I have had a couple of conversations, of late, with some key industry players. One of the concerns, some in the industry are expressing, is the move from 4G to 5G mobility by the consumer.
Next year is being heralded as the breakout year for initial pockets of 5G (beginning with mobile “hot zones” and fixed wireless). However, I have some reservations as to if will be truly 5G, (aka, 3GPP and IMT 2020) hardware or, simply, enhance 4G hitting “5G like” specifications. This is because the evolution of LTE-A Pro promises to hit 2 ms latency and 3 GHz+ in data speed. It also incorporates much of what 5G will incorporate (MIMO, advanced carrier aggregation, licensed assisted access (LAA), and more.
None of us are, really, sure how the 5G ecosystem will unfold and how long it will take before it becomes the primary and ubiquitous network. The current timing hype is, simply, speculation.
Now, 5G in fixed wireless will be, relatively, easy to achieve. 5G mobile (enhanced mobile broadband – eMBB) is another story. Early success will be achieved at sub-6 GHz where mobile networks already exist, but getting them bumped up to full 5G will take time and money.
However, 5G networks will not be worth much if there are no mobile devices. That is a concern. There is a lot of posturing going on among carriers and vendors to deliver 5G mobile devices (aka, smartphones) within a year. Again, how successful that will be, and by whom, is not fully visible on the horizon.
Even if such devices hit the market in either modular form (such as the Motorola models) or fully integrated (LG, Samsung, Etc.) a lot of uncertainty exists around them. I can tell you, from experience, having the first generation of just about anything simply makes you a guinea pig. In this case you will, certainly, be paying a premium for that privilege, as well. That works for the uber-geeks, but the masses are not likely to race to pay big bucks for phones that only work in a limited infrastructure. We know that, generally, first-to-market products are usually a shadow of the updated versions that really work.
eMBB is the golden ring in the 5G game. It will have the most impact on adoption and the acceleration of the 5G ecosystem. While many may say, we have 5G because we have some semblance of phones and a limited network; it is the consumer who will determine when we will have a fully functioning and deployed 5G mobile network.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, Lucent Technologies, , Qwest, City and County of Denver, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner. He is a senior/life member of the IEEE, the Press Liaison for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and a member of the IEEE Communications Society, IEEE MTT Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and the IEEE 5G Community. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org