5G Access in the Making - Are You Ready to Party?

Work hard, play hard. That’s the mantra I lived by in college. Times have changed since then. I’m now working hard to attend soccer games, drive around town for playdates, and enjoy a barbecue with friends on the weekends. Yet I can’t help but think of 5G from this perspective. The industry is in the “work hard” phase currently. Even though some have not realized it, the party has already started: fixed 5G emerged in 2018, delivering 5G home internet service to customers in select cities. 2019 will mark the dawn of 5G mobile networks and provide access to 5G mobile services for enterprises and consumers. It will take years to reach the 5G grand finale. But there will be significant milestones along the way worth celebrating, starting with faster speeds through enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).

The Value of 5G: Potential Economic Benefits

In the “work hard” phase, the entire communications industry must master the complexity of 5G. Technical challenges are humongous and include denser modulation schemes, wider bandwidths, massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO), more and higher frequency bands, and beamforming. Overcoming these challenges will surely pay off though:

Source: IHS, Qualcomm

5G will change the world and profit the entire mobile value chain from chipsets and components manufacturers to device makers, network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) to service providers, and their partners. Device makers are particularly eager to see smartphone sales revived with the arrival of 5G. The many announcements made by phone manufacturers recently are a key indicator that the decreasing sales trend for smartphones is about to end.

Research firm IDC expects the global smartphone market to stabilize in 2019, registering a slight decline in shipments of 0.8% in 2019 and growth of 2.3% in the second half of the year compared to the same period in 2018. Growth drivers include 5G, foldable phones, and devices with larger screens. More importantly, IDC sees 5G smartphone shipments increase from 6.7 million in 2019 to 401.3 million in 2023. 5G smartphones will represent about 25% of shipped smartphones in 2023.

Happy 5G Mobile Network Rollouts! And May the Odds Be Ever in your Favor…

Businesses and consumers will start experiencing 5G this year. In the U.S., all top mobile network operators - Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile - will begin deploying 5G mobile networks in major cities across the nation. Sprint will launch its 5G mobile network in nine markets in the first half of 2019 while Verizon aims to cover 30 cities by year-end. AT&T is looking to expand its 5G network from 12 to 21 cities by mid-2019, and T-Mobile will launch 5G in 30 cities in the second half of the year.

In Europe, carriers have also announced deployment plans for mobile 5G networks across multiple cities. Vodafone and EE are planning to deploy 5G in 19 and 16 UK cities in 2019, respectively. France’s largest mobile phone operator, Orange, will launch 5G in 17 cities in 2019 across Europe including France, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Poland, and Romania. The European Union (EU) aims to deploy 5G in at least one city of each member state by 2020, the result of an initiative announced in 2016 by the European commission called “5G for Europe Action Plan.”

In Asia, South Korea aims to have 5% of its mobile users on a 5G network by 2020. Carriers SK Telecom and KT intend to offer 5G mobile services to consumers when 5G smartphones become locally available. Australia’s Telstra will start offering 5G services in early 2019 and complete its rollout by mid-2020. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI will launch 5G services in limited areas this year. They are planning to complete their 5G mobile network rollouts in 2020.

Join the Party

2019 will mark the first year in which enterprises and consumers start to experience 5G. Verizon’s 5G mobile network, for instance, will be 20 times faster than its 4G long term evolution (LTE) network. It is time to start rejoicing, keeping in mind that this is only the beginning. 5G’s reach will go far beyond faster speeds and generate new experiences through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) while enabling connected cars and giving rise to smarter homes. 5G will transform numerous industries including the automotive, industrial, and healthcare sectors. This transformation will also happen rapidly, enabled by the fastest-yet mobile network rollout, itself fueled by accelerated innovation at the chipset, component, device, and network equipment levels.

Learn more about Keysight’s industry collaborations across the connected wireless ecosystem that accelerate 5G innovation here.