Everyone keeps talking about it. By everyone, think telecommunications companies and tech enthusiasts. 5G connectivity will change everything. It will be a game changer. At least that’s what most articles are saying. The speed will be so extreme, compared to the current 4G (aka LTE) technology that it will open new possibilities for Biotech, Artificial Intelligence and more.
But what will it mean for most consumers?
Let’s go back to 2009. Filmmaker James Cameron releases his groundbreaking movie Avatar, which failed to impress many critics but marked a clear success in terms of special effects and 3D imagery. Suddenly, the tech companies like Samsung jumped on it and marketed the brand new 3D TV’s. You had to have it. Fast-forward a few years later, and by 2016, most companies would stop producing 3D TV’s.
The reason is that more is not always better. Or actually, more is not always necessary.
Obviously, unlike 3D TVs, 5G will become the new standard and there is nothing wrong with that. But the question is, is 5G necessary? Does it require you replace your $1,449 brilliant iPhone XS Max in order to… to do what? Downloading an app will take a couple of seconds less. And so what?
On paper, 4G LTE has a peak speed of 1GB per second. 5G is potentially able to achieve speeds of 20GB per second.
While many believe that consumers will jump and replace their smartphones to benefit from the great bandwidth of 5G, reality may be totally different. Many consumers replaced their devices multiple times, because let’s face it, 3-inch smartphones are simply impossible to use nowadays. But they now have very fast and capable phones with quite a large screen. There is no real motivation to change. The market has matured to such a way that a third camera on the iPhone 11 will not change anything. We may have reached a point where smartphones – already a decade-old – are so mature that no improvement will drastically change the game.
So, yes, 5G will be awesome and provide great bandwidth. But there seems to be very little incentive for customers to jump on it.