Worldwide, more than forty operators have already started this process, in around twenty countries. After the phones, there will be many other connected objects, such as laptops and tablets.
It was expected as the messiah: 5G arrived in the United States. More specifically, operators have started to deploy it, essentially using existing infrastructure. But the process will take several years, especially in a country as huge as the United States. Worldwide, more than forty operators have started deployment, in around twenty countries. In the lead, South Korea, but also China and Japan, which will host the Olympic Games in 2020.
American 5G exists in several flavors. At very high frequencies, users can expect very fast speeds – of the order of one Gigabyte per second – but it is better to be right next to the antenna, because the so-called waves “Millimeter” do not spread far and are limited by all kinds of obstacles (walls, rain …). The operator Verizon has chosen to deploy this type of 5G, starting with a few very limited areas in around thirty city centers. These networks are more like fixed broadband internet without going through fiber.
The lower the frequencies, the better they diffuse. Operators using the 5G low-frequency spectrum therefore cover more territory, but provide significantly lower speeds. This is the option chosen by T-Mobile, which ensures that it can potentially serve 200 million people in more than 5,000 cities. At speeds only 20% faster than on 4G, according to industry experts. “T-Mobile is the biggest deployment because they use the same antennas as their 4G network”, notes Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of Ubergizmo, a site on technological trends.
At & T, another large American operator, offers a “5G E” (Improved 4G), short 5G, available in around twenty cities, and 5G +, very high frequency only for businesses, in demarcated areas. Finally, Sprint has positioned itself on medium frequencies, waves which are also of interest to AT&T and Verizon because they represent a good compromise between the area covered and performance.
But, above all, you must have a compatible smartphone. In 2019, 1.6 million 5G phones were sold in the United States, according to CTA. It expects 20 million in 2020 and 133 million in 2023.