5G is soon coming to rescue the telecom industry! The next generation network promises to address many constraints with spectrum and capacity limitations. Consequently, there is a lot of buzz about when it will be deployed and how it will impact the industry and, most importantly, the consumers.
Mobility Highlights 2017
In June 2017, Ericsson released a new mobility report. The report covered everything from changed user habits to network penetration and here are a few of the highlights:
- Mobile video traffic is expected to grow 50 percent annually through 2022, accounting for nearly 75% of all mobile data traffic. Although social networking will grow, its relative share will decrease.
- In 2022, monthly mobile data traffic per smartphone in North America will reach 26 GB. By the end of 2017 its expected to reach 6.9 GB per month.
- Last year, 70% of all mobile subscriptions were LTE in North America. WCDMA/HSPA was the second largest, around 20%, followed by GSM/EDGE. By 2022, 5G is expected to have 25% of the share, leaving the rest for LTE.
In addition, there were around 0.4 billion IoT devices (alarms, smartwatches, cars etc.) with cellular connections at the end of 2016. This number will more than triple to reach 1.5 billion in 2022.
When to Expect 5G Coverage
There have been efforts made to accelerate the schedule for trials and deployments of NR (New Radio), which will use the existing LTE functionality for deploying 5G.
However, the deployment speed will depend on the growth of the complete eco-system. It will be impacted by 5G-capable devices and decisions on spectrum allocation. Many operators will most likely deploy it commercially from 2020, in line with the time plan for 5G standardization. The adoption rate of 5G is expected to be similar to that of LTE. The roll-out will start in major metro areas, reaching around 15 percent population coverage by 2022.
Trials Completed in China
Early commercial tests are already underway though. Chinese ZTE announced completing 5G NR trials with China Unicom, achieving 2 Gbps data speeds in July 2017. ZTE currently has about 2000 employees working on this and they intend to double that investment.
In conclusion, in order to have a 5G subscription, you need a compatible device which is connected to a 5G-enabled network. This, in its turn, requires a major update of the mobile networks. Therefore, the most likely scenario for 5G introduction is a gradual process over the course of many years. If you want more, check out What is 5G and How Will it Affect Me as a Consumer.