Market musings

What 5G Means and When It Is Coming to Your Part of the World

by Sasha Viasasha
February 13, 2018

Ultra-fast streaming video, crystal clarity in voice quality, and great leaps in energy efficiency are just some of the ways the mobile experience will improve with 5G. In 2018, the fifth generation of standards by the international mobile telecommunications (IMT) group, is making headlines in cities all over the world. 5G (aka IMT-2020) is shaping up to be massive upgrade over 4G/LTE (aka IMT-Advanced). This radio-graphic indicates the most significant upgrade areas and how much the mobile world mobile is about to change for the better. 


The following  executive brief suggests what your business day will look under 5G and when it is likely to arrive in your part of the world.

How business is changing 

The 5G series of technological upgrades were specifically designed to enable:

  • Smart city device control networks
  • Orchestrated robotics on the industrial scale
  • Smart homes and smart offices filled with IoT (Internet of Things) devices
  • Autonomous and connected self-driving transportation (cars, trains, drones, etc.)
  • Individualized health monitoring equipment
  • Online AI agricultural development initiatives

5G advancements are important not only for themselves, but what they make possible for businesses in the future.

A 5G use case report by Ericsson detailed what 5G means for different industries. For companies involved in smart city program development, 5G makes it possible to manage a connection density of one million devices within a single square kilometer. Due to energy efficiency improvements, each device can have an effective battery life of 10 years. Examples that fall into this service category include the monitoring and automation of buildings and infrastructure, smart agriculture, logistics, tracking and fleet management.

On the global scale, inadequate coverage and poor voice quality due to latency are two of the most stubborn obstacles to mobile-based business

5G will enable:

  • Much broader coverage areas to bring mobility to more of the global population
  • Data rates of 100 Mbps in densely packed urban areas
  • 1 Gbps for all workers in a single business at the same time 
  • Reduction in latency from 50 milliseconds (ms) under 4G down to less than 1 ms
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications with user throughput up to 28 Gbps and visually undetectable latency.

It’s important to point out that 5G is not making other generations obsolete. Much of the world is still using 3G or 4G/LTE technologies, which are still evolving. In fact, there will need to be great deal of interoperability between devices that use LTE and 5G new radio access technologies over an extended transition period. 

When 5G is coming to the world

Asia Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand

Australian telcos have been on the forefront of 5G development. Telstra’s Robyn Denholm “Telstra has already conducted Australia’s first 5G field trial and the world’s first 5G outdoor data call over 26GHz ‘mmWave’ radiofrequency spectrum.” At the same time Optus reported that it is bringing 5G to key metro areas on the continent in 2019.

In New Zealand, the rollout of broadband fiber to 80% of the population by 2022 is complicating the 5G story, but it is scheduled to be active in some form in the early 2020’s.

South Koreans already began trials of 5G for self-driving cars in K-city last year and the 2018 Winter Olympics proved to be a live test of 5G’s connection density capabilities. 

The other major population centers, especially in Japan in China, have plans in place for rollouts in 2020. Across the region, 28% of carriers will introduce 5G over the next two years, and 71% will have 5G in place by 2024.  

Central Asia, MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa

India represents another area where preliminary 5G trials began last year with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Reliance Jio.

A report by GSMA at the MENA conference in Dubai projected that there should be 50+ million 5G connections across MENA by 2025. Early adopters are likely to include Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, where mobile subscriber penetration has already gone beyond 90%.

For African nations other than Egypt, Algeria, Lybia, Tunisia, and Morrocco, 3G is still new and 4G has just become available to 30 million subscribers. It’s most likely that the infrastructure for 5G will be in place after 2023.

Europe and the Americas

Home to telecom leaders like Nokia, Telnor, and Ericsson, Scandinavia leads Europe with early 5G implementations this year in Stockholm, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; and Tallinn, Estonia.

The EU has commissioned a detailed plan for rollout to the rest of the continent through 2025.

In the US, Verizon and AT&T have both committed to a 2018 introduction, in cities including Sacramento, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle and Washington, DC.  Mexico’s América Móvil and Canada’s Telus Moblility are expected to follow in 2020.

Brazil and Chile will lead South American countries by bringing on 5G in pieces later this year and next year. Argentina has already begun 5G trials with Telefónica’s Movistar and Ericsson to sync up the rollout schedule with its closest neighbors.

The phone system that adapts to the future

Legacy phone systems are too expensive, too hard to maintain, and too slow to change. When 5G arrives, they won't be ready to take advantage of the new capabilities that will be standard in a faster and more mobile world. 

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Spoke Phone takes business beyond the traditional office. Your team will stay connected no matter where the job takes them.


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