What is 5G?. And do we need it? By Nick Hunn, WiFore Consulting
There seems to be an unquestioning belief in the mobile industry that more “G”s are better. But are they? Whilst the mobile industry appears to be in rude health, there’s a lack of understanding of just how the dynamics of the industry have changed. Despite the apparent calm on the surface, the underlying currents may be setting it up for major disruption. 5G may not be an evolutionary Saviour, but the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
What’s not at question is that we’ve evolved from a digital voice network to a data network. In the early days of 2G, data was a minority interest, mainly gaining traction in niche commercial areas. Some consumer applications appeared for those private things that consumers were happy to pay for, like Girls and Gambling, but attempts to expand it to mobile internet with “Wait and Pay” were less than successful.
3G offered a better experience. It brought more girls and gambling, plus a new revenue stream from Gaming, as commuters and teens changed the demographic of mobile gamers. In time, as data rates continued to rise, the mobile internet started to become a reality, but it needed a new approach in phone design to turn that into a consumer trend. Apple obliged with the iPhone and much of what followed is history. We no longer buy phones as phones, but as increasingly similar and commoditised black slab pocket computers.
Faster 3G speeds and a further step change with 4G saw consumers spending more time on social networking. Gossip joined girls, gaming and gambling. Now the infrastructure companies are intent on yet another order of magnitude speed increase with 5G. But it’s not clear what the application will be.
It will not be the first time that an industry has innovated beyond the requirements of an application. When that happens it typically brings disruption, with major changes in the industry. Phone vendors have already taken most of the network’s power away – you just need to look at their High Street shops to see them giving away brand space on every wall and window. If they follow the 5G bandwagon they may be led by the nose into becoming mere data pipe suppliers.
What would be brave is for them to look for significant new, incremental opportunities. One of those is the nascent Internet of Things, connecting everyday things like Gym equipment, Garden gnomes, Garage door openers, Garbage bins and Golf clubs. Until someone puts some effort into a low power, wireless infrastructure it’s likely to stagnate. But the opportunity could be even bigger for the networks than phone users. Unless the industry looks ahead to see what’s next, rather than being led by the nose into the future, that future could be a shadow of their expectations. We need 5G, but we need to make sure we know that those “G”s stand for.
For a more detailed overview of the mobile industry visit: www.bit.ly/whatis5g
About The Author
Find him on Linkedin: uk.linkedin.com/in/nickhunn
Follow on Twitter: @
View his blog: http://www.nickhunn.com/
Keep the conversation going on Twitter: @CambWireless
Want to find out more about Cambridge Wireless? Visit http://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/