If the mobile phone industry was a nation, it would have the world’s fourth largest economy. And, it’s likely to experience accelerated growth as 5G and other technologies usher in an era of unprecedented connectivity. If the trends of the last century hold true, greater connectivity will also further accelerate innovation.
According to Daniel Crawley, an analyst in EPB’s Strategic Research Division, 5G is really starting to move out of the lab and into the world. “After years of research and false starts, 5G has been rolled out in more than 60 cities since 2018 with plans to add 30 more cities this year,” Crawley said.
According to Crawley, Los Angeles is the poster child for 5G. In LA, all four mobile phone carriers are providing 5G to their customers. One of the best use cases is when you would attend an event at a stadium filled with thousands of people. Currently, conventional WiFi networks tend to become over-congested when large numbers of people try to access them at the same time. The mobile carriers say 5G will help the user experience in situations like that.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is also working to monitor its traffic using 5G technology. And that’s just the beginning. In the future, 5G technology will help connect autonomous vehicles and will have many industrial uses when it comes to manufacturing, logistics and robotics.
Will 5G technology come to the Chattanooga area? All carriers have expressed the importance of 5G and their desire to expand their networks nationwide. So 5G could come to parts of our Gig City sometime in 2021. Because our community already has a 100% fiber optic network, we’ve already overcome one of the primary barriers to 5G deployment. “5G can only deliver superfast speeds if it’s backed by a fiber optic network,” Crawley said.
What will 5G cost? Right now AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon each offer access to their 5G networks as part of their unlimited data plans at no additional cost.
But the price of 5G phones are increasing. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S10 was priced at $999 while the Galaxy S10 5G phone is $1299. The newer Galaxy S20’s are priced at $999, $1199 and $1399. All are 5G phones. To offset the price increase, the carriers are looking into offering 36 month plans instead of 24. That lowers the monthly payment for consumers but increases contractual revenue for the carriers.