Get Ready for 5G

The new mobile wireless standard is on the cusp of taking over

The fifth generation of wireless technology, commonly referred to as 5G, is coming to a smartphone near you in the not-too-distant future.

New projections from Strategy Analytics estimate that there will be 1.5 billion 5G-enabled smartphones shipped in 2025, up from just 2 million in 2019.

Ericsson, too, expects a massive surge in the uptake of 5G over the coming years. This week the company released a new estimate pinning the number of 5G subscriptions at 1 billion by the end of 2023. By then, Ericsson projects that more than one in five people worldwide will have access to 5G coverage.

Some telecoms are hoping to get a head start on 5G's takeover. Verizon, for one, announced this week that it plans on launching 5G service in three to five US cities by the end of 2018.

However, Strategy Analytics signaled a note of caution about such efforts by mobile carriers. "We caution that 5G technology standards today are not yet market-ready," said Boris Metodiev, senior analyst at the firm. "History suggests early 5G products may well suffer technical or financial teething problems."

It's important to note that the standards bodies that define 5G from a technical standpoint have yet to solidify the rules for the new network. Those defining 5G are reportedly aiming for data speeds of 20 Gpbs, with very low latency rates.

This type of standard will no doubt help drive some existing data-intensive activities, such as mobile video consumption. But it also opens up a host of new possibilities for device manufacturers, mobile carriers and software developers.

Virtual and augmented reality technology, for example, may see a huge benefit from faster data transfer speeds resulting from the adoption of 5G technology.