5G Update: What’s Next in 2020?

As we start off 2020, it appears as if 5G connectivity is finally getting into the hands of consumers. Major telecommunications providers such as Verizon now have 5G networks up-and-running in major cities across the United States. From Los Angeles to New York City, most major urban areas (including Atlanta, Denver, and Dallas) can now enjoy access to the faster data speeds, reduced lag time, and smart device support promised by this next-generation network.

Today’s 5G service plans aren’t attainable for most consumers (due in part to the fact that 5G-enabled devices are wildly expensive), but getting real-world 5G networks online is a significant win for the telecommunications industry. Better yet, despite the controversy surrounding the rollout of 5G service, there have been few doubters of this new technology.

We have compiled the following guide to provide our readers with an updated understanding of the State of 5G. While there are dozens of new development each day, we’ve opted to stick to an overview of a few key themes, including current deployments, pricing, and next steps.

Current 5G Network Deployments

As of this writing, there have been numerous of 5G networks launched, with over 300 service providers committed to deploying 5G in the near future. This useful 5G Map by Ookla is the best resource that we’ve found for tracking the ongoing 5G rollout.

Unsurprisingly, most 5G networks are clustered around U.S. states with numerous urban areas (think New York and California). Rural states like Wyoming and Montana still enjoy 5G, albeit with limited network access. Looking forward, it is anticipated that 5G network deployments will rapidly increase in number throughout 2020 and beyond.

Tricky Pricing Models

Major telecommunications corporations are still grappling with how to price 5G service plans. Generally speaking, prices for next-generation connectivity remain high. This is due to a number of reasons.

Operators are hesitant to drive mass adoption of 5G with affordable pricing, as this would quickly overwhelm their limited networks. 5G-enabled smartphones and tablets are still prohibitively expensive for many customers. After all, why pay $1,000+ for a 5G device when one can pay $300 or so for a device with reliable coverage?

Furthermore, this new technology is near the “peak of inflated expectations” segment of the hype cycle, which a method developed by Gartner to track the adoption of new information technology. Until the hype surrounding 5G dies down, the price of service plans is sure to remain sky-high.

Looking Forward: Next Steps For 5G Adoption

As we look forward, there are still several unknowns surrounding 5G technology. Outside of the promise of faster download times and better service, there are few viable ideas to drive adoption. The idea of video games and streaming services optimized for 5G is enticing, but we have yet to see much from these concepts. More importantly, how exactly will 5G impact enterprise computing in the future?

Unfortunately, we likely won’t find the answers to these questions in 2020. Once 5G network deployments are widespread, it will take time for new products and services to become useful. Consider 2020 the year of 5G deployments and growing pains, while the transformative benefits of this new technology are sure to be revealed in the years to come.


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