While 5G is not only going to change wireless and impact every company in every industry, it is still just at the very beginning of its long journey. At the network level, the leader today in 5G is clearly AT&T Mobility. Verizon Wireless comes in second and other wireless carriers come in after that. Let’s take a closer look at what both offer today and what is still to come.
What puts AT&T Mobility in the lead is they have a list of 19 cities where they are working to launch 5G mobile service. Going forward, that list of cities will continue to grow, and the footprint within each city will continue to expand. What makes AT&T different from Verizon is simple. AT&T Mobility’s is a 5G mobile offering.
Verizon Wireless is next with their 5G Home product. This is not a mobile offering. They are testing and will offer 5G over fixed networks meaning at the home and office. A mobile offering is set for early next year, according to Verizon.
That’s the big two wireless networks. As for the equipment makers like Apple, Android, Samsung and others, it will be later in 2019 before the first 5G devices hit the market. I expect Apple will be late to the party as they always are. However, when they do arrive, the product will likely work well.
AT&T Mobility leads the 5G race with Nighthawk 5G router
The way AT&T will offer 5G mobile services is by using a device from Netgear called the NightHawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Router. This works very similar to the way Wi-Fi routers work in Starbucks or McDonalds. You connect to it and it gives you fast access to the Internet. But with this Nighthawk 5G router, you can do the same thing while you are out and about.
This will let AT&T Mobility users communicate at 5G speeds over 5G networks even if they are not yet using 5G devices. So, you can use your existing smartphones like iPhones and Androids, tablets, watches and so on. All you need to do is be in the 5G footprint and you’ll have fast 5G service.
Verizon Wireless 5G Home is next in line
Verizon Wireless will also be a 5G player, but they don’t have a mobile solution yet. Their gear is not mobile. It is at your home or office in certain areas. This gives you 5G speeds in those areas, but only at this location.
That means since Verizon 5G Home isn’t yet mobile, I think users won’t consider it a mobile device the same way they will AT&T with Nighthawk.
This is the current state of the 5G wars. This is the first generation of this new technology. It will continue to expand over the next several years.
And, in fact, this new 5G technology will not only impact wireless, but will also be a big challenge and opportunity for every other company in every other industry.
Early adopters will have a competitive advantage for a while, until all the competitors are offering the same services. This will take years to accomplish so I expect wireless to be a very exciting place going forward.
I think it’s important to realize that as exciting as this is, moving to 5G will take time. Just like moving from 2G to 3G to 4G did.
T-Mobile US and Sprint need to merge to fully compete in 5G wave
T-Mobile also wants to be a leader in 5G. Whether they are or not may depend on whether they merge with Sprint. T-Mobile has the marketing talent but has very little wireless data spectrum. Sprint has loads of spectrum but does not much in the way of marketing pizzazz.
Together, if T-Mobile and Sprint pool their resources, they could be a strong third place competitor. We don’t yet know the state of play with T-Mobile and Sprint and we may have to wait to see whether the merger is approved or not.
With all that said, the wireless networks are gearing up rapidly lead by AT&T and Verizon.
Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile role in 5G
Expect Comcast Xfinity Mobile and Charter Spectrum Mobile to play a growing role in this move to 5G as well. With that said, when Altice Mobile launches next year, expect them to be part of the same growth wave.
So, we are still in the very early stages of what will be a massive reinvention of the wireless industry. Not only will 5G completely transform the entire wireless industry, but every other company in every other industry will jump in as well.
5G smartphones, tablets and hardware still coming
5G will change everything. Think of what Uber and Lyft did with 4G. Think of how 5G will transform the pay TV marketplace, introducing new wireless TV services from existing and new players. Think of all the other innovation that will be unleashed when 5G becomes a reality in the next several years.
Knowing where to invest and to work is always a challenge. You want to invest in and work in a company on the growth side of the growth wave. There will be many. However, it’s also important to understand that many companies who are doing strong business today based on yesterday’s technology, will not transition to this new 5G world.
Companies must stay on growing side of growth wave
So, it’s very important to have a good understanding of whether the company you invest in or work for is on the growing side of the growth wave. If not, they will be on the falling side of that same growth wave and that’s not good for them or for you.
So, let’s go into this new world of 5G with our eyes open. There are unbelievable growth opportunities and challenges ahead. There will be success and failure both in the wireless industry and every other industry as well.
It’s important to understand the growth curve I am talking about, and where each company is on that growth wave.