After years of hype around the introduction of 5G, the demand for high-speed communications is still in question. The top three US carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – have invested more than $100 billion in their development. the heyday of such content, to put it mildly, is yet to come.
5G networks, aside from faster speeds, don’t seem to bring groundbreaking innovations like they did with the previous two generations. When 3G first came to the masses, it moved mobile devices from what Steve Jobs once called the “little internet” to a full-fledged internet, comparable to what could be seen on a computer. It was so important that Apple even called the second version of their smartphone iPhone 3G.
The advent of LTE, also called 4G, brought high-quality video and streaming to mobile devices, also transforming all areas of activity that required more traffic. As with the previous update of cellular networks, online services have changed qualitatively.
Previous experience has created inflated expectations for the new standard, 5G. Companies were waiting for the boom of robotics and drones, virtual reality and metaverses, holographic communications and the blockchain boom. However, technology has not kept pace with the development of networks, and there has been more and more skepticism towards the latter.
In late 2021, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert beautifully articulated the contrast between expectation and reality: “The 5G smartphone is the first killer app of the 5G era.”
Now more and more reviewers are disappointed that using 5G is not much different from the experience with 4G. When buying 5G smartphones, people are essentially doing the same thing they were doing on their previous LTE phone – there are very few new interests that practically justify such a switch. Not that there is anything bad in it (except for the increase in the cost of tariffs) – there is simply no killer feature. Operators talk about more stable coverage in hard-to-reach regions and potentially more traffic, but remain hopeful for the future.