In its latest white paper, “Substance behind the Hype: 5G Smartphones Primed and Ready for Fast Rollout,” IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam predicts that the global 5G transition is poised to take place at a faster pace than any previous wireless generation transition.
“It is easy to paint the current momentum behind 5G as the usual pre-launch hype drummed up by vested stakeholders,” said Lam, principal analyst for IHS Markit and lead author of the white paper. “However, the mobile industry is fundamentally better prepared and more aligned with a common standard than at any previous technology transition.”
In his study, Lam said industry uncertainty adds friction to development and discourages firms from making big bets when the outcome is less than certain. While past wireless technology upgrades had competing standards vying for industry attention, there is no doubt about the air interface standard that will be used for 5G, he said.
“The 5G electronic ecosystem is significantly more mature, at this point, compared to the same time during the LTE transition,” said Lam. “Key 5G chipsets have been tested, proven and designed into devices, and the industry is now poised to deliver their first 5G smartphone in early 2019.
5G is the term used to describe the next-generation of mobile networks beyond the 4G LTE mobile networks of today. Some U.S. carriers such as Verizon and AT&T started rolling out 5G pilots in select markets last year, but 5G networks are not expected to be widely available until the 2020 timeframe, industry analysts say.
In the executive summary of his report, Lam highlights these trends for the upcoming rollout of 5G smartphones:
– The industry has been moving in lock-step as a common technology standard drives carrier adoption and capital investment in 5G network technology.
– Parallel to global carrier investment in the 5G transition, governments such as China and the U.S. are increasingly viewing 5G technology as critical to their respective global technological and economic prospects and are incentivized to drive for and claim 5G leadership.
– Supply chain readiness, especially those of the modem and RF front end, providing momentum for 5G handset designs and availability.
– Lessons from 4G LTE demonstrate that wireless technology serves as the platform for which new advancements, business models and services will flourish. 5G will be no different as it promises improvements in multiple aspects of network capability.