The 5G Network: A Distant Future or a Possibility Just Around the Corner?

Growth of the mobile network

It’s a known fact that over 50% of world internet connections are made through mobile. In the last decade the use of mobile network has multiplied 4,000 and there are predictions that in the next 15 years the usage will grow 400 million times more. Youtube reports that mobile video usage grows 100% every year, and according to Cisco by 2020 75% of mobile traffic will be video.

Other than in the private sector, the mobile network is also employed in smart houses and cities. According to Gartner, by 2020 the IoT device market- consisting of smart lighting sensors, smart meters, parking sensors and smart monitoring- will be worth over $20 billion. According to BI Intelligence by 2020 we’ll also have close to 10 million automatic cars that will use their mobile connectivity to navigate, process information and make decisions.

5G is All the Buzz

Unleashing the full potential of the 5G network will make incredibly fast internet connections, anywhere between 1GBps and 10GBps, completely possible. To give you an idea of just how fast we’re talking: the average speed in Israel today is 28Mbps (the 4G network hasn’t been fully deployed yet). Because the 5G network also guarantees up to 1000 times broader bandwidth when compared to 4G, devices connected to it would be able to transfer heavier and richer data and get better computing and processing capabilities over the network. That’s why deployment and data transfer pilots are being conducted worldwide, most notably by Korean companies like Samsung and SKT and American AT&T. Though the predicted deployment rates may vary, by 2020 the 5G network is already expected to reach the US, South Korea, Japan, China and some countries of the EU.


5G Deployment

To make 5G a reality three key elements must preexist: technological development, guaranteed profitability and a regulatory backup. As we’ve discussed previously the technological developments necessary to deploy the 5G network are already fairly advanced. Considering the currently conducted trials commercial deployment of the network is indeed possible in the next two years. Unlike the tech side of things, the financial aspect is more complex and some are not sure how profitable 5G might be in light of the necessary initial investment. Despite prevalent concern, it seems like most of the world is heading towards launching 5G in the next two years.

The biggest challenge the mobile industry has to face when it comes to 5G is regulation policies of wave band spectrum and actual deployment in the field. The obstacles vary between unfavorable spectrum policies, difficult urban planning restrictions (regarding permits, network installation visibility and the informing of the public), mounting environmental concerns (radiation safety) and different contractual and legal aspects. To be able to deploy the network quickly and efficiently regulatory backup has to transform into a binding set of directives. A good example of the way these kind of challenges are handled is the small cell deployment issue- on which we’ll elaborate some other time.

Lately the US is making efforts to speed up the deployment of the network, the official goal being to ensure the country a leading position in the game. Last month the FCC voted to remove federal environmental and historical protection reviews on small cell deployment sites. The decision is supposed to save $10,000 per cell per year and considerably shorten the bureaucratic process.


5G Around the World

The US isn’t the only one committed to the race. This month’s CTIA report shows that the US is ranked third in 5G readiness- behind South Korea and China. The country most likely to widely commercially deploy the 5G network in the near future is South Korea, which isn’t especially surprising considering the dominant presence of companies like Samsung and SKT in its development. China is expected to be the most prominent player when the race settles; last month’s CCS Insights report predicts it will hold 39% of the market by 2025- over 400 million 5G connections. Network deployment rates in China are likely to be slower than those of its main competitors, yet much more significant when it comes to the sheer amount of users. According to the report Europe is expected to have over 100 million 5G connections- however it seems to be lagging behind due to regulatory restrictions, fragmented market and local operator’s preference to focus on the 4G network rather than on its new competitor.


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