The technology’s coverage will be broader. Devices will be cheaper. And we might start seeing applications that tap into 5G’s benefits.
The rise of 5G and foldable phones invigorated the mobile industry, setting the stage for a big 2020. Then the novel coronavirus pandemic hit. The world, and phone sales, screeched to a halt.
But the funny thing is, in the midst of a global crisis, phone sales bounced back.
This was supposed to be the year 5G went mainstream, of consumers seeking out the technology. But early speeds were a little underwhelming, so it could be 2021 is when 5G will actually be noticeably different. Coverage will get better. Speeds will get faster. Phones will get cheaper. It’ll be the year when consumers will actually start clamoring for 5G, rather than it being an extra throw-in on the latest device. And 5G will expand to even more products beyond phones as we start to see the promise of 5G fulfilled.
The continued advance of 5G is more critical than ever with COVID-19 radically changing our world. People are stuck at home and maintaining their distance from each other, forcing them to rely on home broadband service — something 5G could amp up. The next-generation cellular technology, which boasts anywhere from 10 to 100 times the speed of 4G and rapid responsiveness, could improve everything from simple video conferencing to telemedicine and advanced augmented and virtual reality. Gaming is another area that’s expected to benefit from 5G’s responsiveness and fast speeds.
Instead of slowing down 5G, the pandemic in some ways made it easier for carriers to expand their networks faster. In China, the government made 5G’s rollout a priority, and Apple’s entry into the 5G market with the iPhone 12 has boosted the number of 5G phone users.
The super-fast technology reached more customers this year than expected and will cover about 60% of the global population by 2026, according to a report last month from Ericsson. That makes 5G the fastest-deployed mobile network ever, the Swedish networking giant said. By the end of 2020, there will be about 218 million 5G subscriptions around the world, surpassing forecasts, and the number should nearly triple next year.
2021 will be about keeping that momentum and then supercharging it.