The launch of the first commercial 5G services in the United States is imminent, and the projected growth numbers for future 5G adoption suggests the country will be one of the world’s leading 5G nations in the coming years.
The recent GSMA Intelligence report, “5G era in the US,” examines early 5G deployments in the U.S., and forecasts that the country will reach 100 million 5G connections by early 2023, nearly doubling to 190 million by 2025.
The four major national mobile operators in the U.S. – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US and Verizon have provided important insights to the report.
The Impact of 5G Today
In addition to building 5G networks the development of compelling services and devices will be fundamental to the success of 5G. While there are plenty of potential 5G use cases – including fixed wireless, robotic surgery and autonomous cars – the GSMA and its partners are also seeing substantial progress in video, AR/VR and smart cities that show the true potential of 5G for today’s customers.
Enhanced mobile broadband will be the main use case in early 5G deployments beginning this year, with massive IoT and ultra-reliable, low-latency communications gaining scale during the later stages of deployment.
Innovative and segmented consumer propositions targeting an enhanced mobile/video customer experience could also play a key role in driving 5G consumer adoption. These include entertainment content delivered through advanced video capabilities, AR/VR devices and applications for gaming and immersive TV, and multi-device subscriptions that include IoT services (e.g. connected cars).
The advent of 5G coincides with a period of significant transformation in the wider U.S. technology, media and telecoms (TMT) industry. As the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) move closer to the mainstream, 5G is expected to have a major role in their development.
5G and the Industry
While 4G has been driving the transition from connected to digital consumers from 2010 through 2020, 5G will hold a key role in the transition to the augmented consumer in the long term. In fact, 5G and 4G will likely coexist and complement each other for many years as the phased 5G approach rolls out. Streamlining regulation as well as further developments in the three main areas of spectrum, infrastructure and economics will impact 5G over the next decade:
- Spectrum – S. operators believe there is a need for a regulatory framework that prioritizes and supports the timely and sufficient availability of spectrum for 5G, both in the short term (2018-2019) and beyond.
- Infrastructure – S. operators believe regulators must continue to reduce barriers to deploying infrastructure, particularly small cells which are expected to be widely utilized in 5G networks. Moreover, policymakers should allow any infrastructure sharing arrangements to develop organically and commercially over time – if they are viable – rather than introduce rules that could slow down the pace of deployment.
- Economics – There is a shared view among the U.S. mobile operators that the investment needed to deploy 5G networks and deliver mobile connectivity for all use cases should be supported by a long-term policy environment that provides greater predictability, effective competition among companies in the ecosystem, and encourages innovation.
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