The trendiest word in technology circles is 5G, but is it even worth talking about it?.
It reminds me of when 4G was the next-big-thing. I hate such hype cycles. Everyone is announcing something, but none of it translates to the market. The truth is, infrastructure changes don’t happen in an instant but gradually. 5G won’t be any different, despite what others herald.
That said, 5G has some serious strategic implications. In a nutshell, it delivers three critical improvements:
- Faster connections (10x what we have now).
- Lower latencies (Under 1ms in some cases)
- Better support for multi-device connectivity
Despite the promising new features, it will take some time for consumers to take advantage of them. It’s true that the rollout schedule is better developed than previous technologies. However, there are still significant hurdles to overcome.
On the one hand, 5G uses higher frequencies than other protocols. While speeds are better, signal coverage is drastically reduced. This means that while some urban regions will get access to 5G, it will take some time to get even 5G coverage.
Go Deeper: The limited area coverage of 5G will make high-speed, low latency connections the realm of urbanites. This will further accelerate the rural-to-urban migration trend we’re experiencing. Anyone outside of the urban sphere will have a hard time competing in the digital economy. Governments need to think long and hard about how they’ll expand 5G coverage into rural areas to prevent the exodus.
The other handicap for 5G is the lack of device support
. There are but a handful of 5G phones in the market, not to mention multipurpose devices. This will change, probably in two years
, but it seems we’re living through a reversal of what happened with 4G. Device makers are waiting for the infrastructure to be in place before committing to anything. Hard to blame them for being cautious.