What is 5G?

5G is the “fifth generation” mobile network, succeeding 4G to deliver more efficient wireless connectivity. To consumers and businesses, 5G enables faster download speeds, lower latency (the response time for machines to communicate with each other), greater flexibility and ability to support more devices, and a dramatic improvement in reliability. 

The establishment of 5G technology around the world marks a new era of mobile broadband, sparking transformational opportunities across industries. Now accessible throughout the US and in more than 60 other countries—with China as the global leader in usage—5G will give rise to more immersive rich media, smart cities and autonomous technology, advances in cloud computing, and so many other applications we have yet to imagine.  

Here are the 5G market trends you’ll need to prepare for across media, entertainment, and marketing. 

When fully functional in a few years, 5G markets will mean much faster, more reliable networks with higher capacity. -
When fully functional in a few years, 5G markets will mean much faster, more reliable networks with higher capacity.

5G network improvements in 2021

To the average user, performance improvements are still minor on 5G—that is, until we shift to standalone (SA) networks, which run fully on 5G signals and station base equipment. This new core infrastructure will take a few years, but when fully functional, will result in much faster, more reliable service.

Today’s early iterations of 5G networks are non-standalone (NSA), meaning it still relies on 4G LTE networks to connect. Although 5G networks are rapidly expanding, most global networks are still NSA, many of which operate in frequency bands that are crowded with other uses.

The more noticeable performance improvements will come with the adoption of standalone (SA) networks, built with edge computing. Even then, to take full advantage of its benefits, the user must connect to a network and have a device that supports the same 5G standard.

In the US, the first SA 5G network was rolled out by T-Mobile in August 2020. Other leading countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and China, are making investments to increase coverage for larger parts of the country’s population.

5G benefits for media

Among the first and most noticeable improvements 5G markets will enable are advancements in rich media. Faster download speeds and slower latency will initiate high-quality, interactive video experiences without interference. The broader frequency bands of 5G will allow content creators, developers, data experts and multimedia marketers to reimagine just what’s possible. 

The opportunity to leverage richer, more reliable media applications are only just beginning:  “4K video streaming services may have issues in some LTE environments, but with 5G, we can safely assume that users will be able to experience content—including data-heavy augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) content—like never before, wherever they go,” said Jonathan Harrop, senior director of global marketing and communications at AdColony.

Increased accessibility of 5G will also mean shorter buffering times and less lag, allowing for better extended reality (XR) experiences that are not only more realistic, but more readily available on the go. Enhancements will accelerate consumer demand for in-person and livestreamed video content, especially in the sports, news, gaming, and event space. 

Like what you’re reading? Click here to learn more about Insider Intelligence’s leading Tech research.

The 5G market is poised to drive up AR and VR usage in the coming years.  -
The 5G market is poised to drive up AR and VR usage in the coming years.

5G benefits for entertainment

Entertainment companies around the world have been laying the groundwork for 5G innovations, teaming up with network providers, manufacturers, and software developers to unlock new avenues for monetization. Users will soon be able to enjoy data-heavy audio and video content, accelerating demand for premium video, games and live events.

According to an October 2018 report commissioned by Intel and produced by Ovum (now Omdia), 5G-powered media and entertainment “experiences” were expected to drive up to $1.3 trillion in revenues by 2028. Although the projection was made pre-pandemic, our research shows the potential still remains strong, even if COVID delays the activation of 5G in the interim. 

Both in-person and virtual event attendees will experience the impact of 5G. Improved mobile connections at crowded, large-scale venues—where service is often poor—can create the ideal environment that blends physical and virtual engagement, as attendees interact with each other online, access exclusive video and commentary, and purchase merchandise on the spot. Remote viewers won’t need to feel left behind, with immersive broadcasts that transport them to a stadium, arena, or theatre. 

5G’s promise of lower latency is also set to bolster the already-booming gaming and esports industry. Faster computer response times will advance cloud computing solutions, enabling gamers to play uninterrupted with multiple people on several mobile devices—capabilities that are now generally only available on gaming consoles and high-performance PCs. This positive effect of cloud gaming will trickle into the esports market, too, since professional gamers can stream more reliable, high-resolution video content.

5G benefits for marketing

According to a February 2020 Salesforce survey, more than 90% of marketing professionals worldwide expect 5G technology to have an impact on their industry over the next decade. That may be why so many marketers have been quick to explore 5G-enabled business models and invest in 5G infrastructure. 

Rich media applications will enhance video advertising—delivering instant, interactive content—but that’s only the beginning. Expect to see AR and VR integration, as well as hyper-personalized audience targeting. Businesses will have more opportunity to collect data that allows them to tailor ad messaging and even introduce predictive technology. Informed by detailed targeting data, marketers could deliver multichannel messaging that advertises products and services at a precise point of need. Algorithms, for example, could be developed to analyze a user’s need and flash alerts based on their behavior. 

5G’s biggest performance improvements still lie in the future, but that doesn’t mean marketers can’t start preparing now. In addition to understanding the technology and market of 5G, businesses can plan for the big shifts that 5G will bring about by exploring its capabilities and aligning their strategies.

5G connections will number about 600 million worldwide in 2021 and 3.0 billion by 2025, according to Omdia and 5G Americas. -
5G connections will number about 600 million worldwide in 2021 and 3.0 billion by 2025, according to Omdia and 5G Americas.