5G Networks Might Launch in 2020; Big New Revenue Ecosystems Not So

Ignore for the moment the realities that we do not know yet how to define fifth generation mobile networks; the fact that in many markets 3G has yet to be fully commercialized, to say nothing of 4G; or that many other essential parts of an idealized 5G ecosystem are complicated in their own right (big data, new network architectures, commercial acceptance of new IoT services and apps).

With some supporters aiming to launch commercial 5G networks as early as 2020,  some might question whether the benefits will be tangible so soon.

Most of the new applications supported by 4G networks actually were envisioned when 3G was launched. By that reckoning, it might take a decade before new 5G-enabled apps and services are widely used.

Sometimes it is hard to determine, in advance, the ways in which networks deliver value, long past the time when they “should” be eclipsed or retired. Telenor, for example, plans to shut down its 3G network in 2020, before its 2G network is turned off in 2015.

The reason is that 2G is seen as working fine for many developing Internet of Things or machine-to-machine applications that do not require much bandwidth, where the 3G network is simply a slower version of 4G.

Such uncertainties are almost certain to affect 5G as well, particularly as some see 5G as the underpinning for Internet of Things businesses which in their own right are complicated to create.

New 5G networks might actually launch in 2020. It seems doubtful the new applications and revenue streams will emerge, in a substantial way, that soon. We saw the same lag in 3G.
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