5G will be everywhere in 2021, but don’t hold your breath hyper-fast future that telecoms and analysts are still promising.
Despite the cell-building setbacks brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the long-awaited next generation of wireless service is on track for a great year of growth. But experts say it will be a few more years before it lives up to its potential, which would mean reaching speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G LTE and ushering in a range of connected devices ranging from from self-driving cars to smart urban networks.
“This year is expected to have a significant impact on the performance and availability of 5G networks,” said Daniel Hays, director of PwC. “But it will really take two or three years before we see this on a large scale.”
Still, some narrow business applications of 5G are already starting to show promise and the pandemic has created new forms of consumer demand for connectivity, which could have implications for marketers in the coming year, according to the report. Hays.
“As these mobile networks mature, the opportunities for advertising and marketing – and for a truly immersive customer experience – will expand significantly,” Hays said.
While the quarantine shutdowns led to logistical challenges in installing cellular equipment for 5G, the net impact was lower than expected and 5G coverage continued to grow rapidly in the United States, according to reports. recent data from PwC.
The proportion of Americans with access to 5G networks has increased from around 60% in July 2020 to three-quarters now, while the number of owners of the required devices has increased from 2% to 8% during the same period, according to consulting and accounting firm. Company analysts expect coverage to increase to 80% and device penetration to 12% by July.
Hays said the lag between network coverage and adoption of 5G-enabled devices is typical, especially with a general trend among consumers to move away from frequent device upgrades in recent years. But the economic conditions of the pandemic also exasperated the gap, with financially strapped consumers less willing to jump into the latest iPhone.
The pandemic has also dramatically boosted demand for 5G broadband in homes, as people rely more on broadband connections to work and communicate remotely, Hays said. Wireless operators have turned to those home connections as a promising way to compete with traditional cable companies.
Ultimately, however, the main factor delaying adoption this year is the time it takes for wireless carriers to install. all additional cellular equipment it takes to stream mobile 5G at its fastest speeds.
Augmented reality and cloud gaming
While retailers and other brands a rise in popularity in augmented reality during the pandemic, the format also emerged as a upper area of short-term potential for 5G connections, which will eventually facilitate more robust and complex AR graphics. Hays said 5G-enabled AR even saw unexpected growth in corporate categories, where it was used for things like virtual training sessions.
Cloud gaming, where 5G connections can reduce the kind of latency that can make or break gaming performance, is another area that could boost 5G growth this year.
“The two new use cases we’re most excited about, and think they’ll have the most legs in the short term, are cloud gaming and augmented reality,” Hays said.
But Forrester analyst Julie Ask said she was not sure 5G will reach a point where it will have a significant impact on AR this year, especially with live events in arenas and venues. stadiums – today’s best places to access the fastest 5G speeds – not possible for the foreseeable future. because of the pandemic.