5G promises to connect everything, but is that a good thing?

January 11, 2019 10:00 am

As head of market research for the CTA – the trade body that owns and produces the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each year – Steve Koenig has a gimlet eye when it comes to the fifth generation of mobile tech, or 5G.

For starters, he isn’t selling the idea that it’s coming out tomorrow, let alone in 2020.

“When it comes to 5G, it’s not like flipping a switch,” Koenig says. “At CES, we are seeing 5G take its first steps; we’re just learning to walk here with 5G. And based on our own projections at the CTA, it won’t be until 2022 until the majority of smartphones in the U.S. will be 5G enabled.”

Despite being a ways off, Koenig is still giddy about what 5G may ultimately bring. While 3G-connected people, and 4G-enabled innovations such as Uber, nobody is sure what the next big thing 5G will bring. “There’s a lot of innovation with 5G that we just don’t know what’s it’s going to be,” he says. “Anyone who has the answer to that question is going to be a rich.”

Of course, there are some things the industry can predict.

Koenig says downloading a two-hour movie should take about two or three seconds with 5G, and “that’s going to be great for consuming content, and that’s another implication for brands because 5G will innovagrate more content consumption over mobile networks.”

Still, the industry overall is pushing the narrative that 5G will connect everything.

“We’ve been talking about the internet of things for a while and 5G will amplify that dynamic exponentially,” he says. “So it’s no longer just consumer devices, but connected infrastructure from street lights to traffic signals and when you imagine that you can start to see smart cities take shape. This is where 5G is crucial.”

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