5G connections will grow from five million at the end of last year to 1.5 billion by the end of 2025. This may not be particularly surprising, it may even sound a little less like a revolution than a slow evolution given the deluge of hype that has surrounded 5G for, well, as long as we can reasonably remember.
What is interesting is that two countries are tipped to share 75% of 5G connections in six years’ time – South Korea and the US.
What is even more interesting, according to this study published by Juniper Research, is that both countries have raced to the bottom with their pricing in order to get customers onto their 5G networks.
The study points out that pricing in other countries tends towards a premium for 5G connectivity and services.
There are still a raft of questions around the whole 5G issue.
Given the enormous investments that have been made in 5G, 1.5 billion customers does not seem enough to recoup those investments, if just over a billion of them will be found in countries that are going cheap on pricing.
Then, of course, there is the question of whether 5G is ‘real’ 5G or just fast mobile. Looking at the announcements from protagonists in the two countries that ‘lead’ the 5G race, it seems that South Korea is nearer the mark than the US.
For a start, South Korea has not only launched 5G but announced a plethora of services – mainly games – that will bring in the revenue that makes the sums add up better. It also seems that South Korea has the real benefits of network slicing figured out. Network slicing, as pointed out by Niall Byrne, means that someone can be playing virtual reality games in one room of the house, without the game crashing or radically slowing down when someone else switches on Netflix.
Not so much in the US, where the sales pitch is basically all about speed and reliability. Which begs the question, why not just roll out public Wi-Fi?
The money has to be on South Korea and similar markets to make the first financial success of 5G through the services that will be offered on the back of 5G. Meanwhile, Verizon and others must be looking at a much longer pay-back time if speed is all they are offering.
It also means that the rest of the world will only have about 400 million 5G customers by 2025.
If that is the case, then the hype is and was just that. Hype.