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What We’ve Learned After Six Months of 5G

It’s been six months since South Korea deployed the world’s first nationwide 5G networks. So, how is this technology already changing the world?

To put it briefly, commercial 5G is expected to explode in the coming months. While there are only 34 standardized 5G networks around the world today, that number is expected to more than double by the end of 2019 – resulting in more than 120 million 5G-enabled devices to be deployed next year.

Why is this happening?

What 5G is Doing Well

If early trends accurately represent public sentiment, then 5G will be overwhelmingly popular. Through the first five months these networks have been available, more than three million people have subscribed to commercial 5G services. And, unlike 4G and its predecessors, 5G leaders have offered enabled, user-ready devices from day one to maximize this rapid adoption rate.

As a result of these speedier-than-ever network rollouts, it shouldn’t be surprising that consumers are using more data than ever before. According to South Korea Telecom, its average 5G user burns through almost 34GB of data per month – 65% more than its average 4G customer.

That said, these networks and providers are not only supporting this increased demand without service interruptions or delays – they’re providing it more cost-efficiently than ever before. Initial returns show increases in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of up to almost one percent. While this doesn’t sound like much, it adds up when multiplied across millions of 5G users.

Aggressive early adopters like Samsung and Huawei are also expanding their traditional footprints and helping global organizations reinvent customer experiences thanks to 5G. As this technology delivers higher speeds and lower network latencies, more and more enterprises are finding it possible to deliver satisfying interactions to customers through a variety of technology-driven channels.

Where 5G Networks Need to Improve

While 5G’s hype has been exciting to follow for technophiles like you and I, it’s also been deceptive at times for the less-informed public audience. Consider the AT&T 5G E false advertising lawsuit. Despite the carrier supporting 5G in more U.S. cities than anybody else today, AT&T’s misleading statements continue to damage its reputation and level of public trust.

Another recent example is Korea Telecom Corporation (KT), which deceived potential customers through ads by stating its 5G service delivered 1.7 Gbit/s despite that capability only being available in roughly three percent of its base stations.

Beyond more honest approaches, technology leaders also need to get better at applying 5G to nontraditional products and services. Early attempts to improve HD streaming, for example, have largely fallen flat due to technical issues despite all the potential advantages this technology offers. Service providers have bountiful business opportunities to take advantage of – but only if they can figure out how to make 5G help effectively.

What You Can Expect to See Soon

The most obvious innovation is increased network performance. While first tries often mean inconsistent and underwhelming results wherever technology is concerned, this hasn’t been the case so far with 5G. In fact, average download speeds across these next-gen networks have been 48% faster than 4G – and some locations are experience downloads almost nine times faster than this average rate.

A reduction in latency as devices move in and out of 5G is also on the horizon. Since most users still spend their time operating on legacy 4G and LTE networks, carriers and service providers that help shrink delays stand to gain the most from this industry’s earliest adopters.

By implementing upswitching, 5G leaders can shrink the lag network switching causes to almost one-third of its current delay. Though standalone 5G resolves this issue entirely, we’re still years and billions of dollars in deployment investments away from that reality.

5G networks 5G will bring tremendous business value to your organization – but only if you’re prepared to measure its impact. Fortunately, we can help. Check out AOTMP® University’s The ROI of Network Performance Management Course to learn how you can start improving your technology management practice today.