Why 5G is coming to the US faster than expected

TechRepublic caught up with the GSMA's Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere and talked about how US carriers have moved up the timeline for 5G deployments.

How US carriers moved up the timeline on 5G

Up until the last 12 months, most projections for 5G were in the 2020-2021 timeframe. We chatted with the GSMA's Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere about how the 5G timetable has accelerated in the US.

Lattibeaudiere said, "We're very excited that all the US operators are really taking seriously the path to 5G. Many have announced that they will bring it to market by the end of the year. Some of them have announced pilot cities, but the excitement is there. We believe that there will be commercial deployment by the end of 2018, which is amazing.

"We've come from 4G to 5G much faster than we did in the past. I think the operators realize the number of use cases that 5G can support. [And], the explosion of data you see from a consumer perspective has become extraordinary--much more than you've ever [seen] in the past. All of that is really bringing the possibility of connected cars, IoT. There's so many things that 5G can enable that is a little bit more difficult with LTE today. I think that is part of the reason."

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Lattibeaudiere added, "I think it's wanting to deploy quality services and being first in terms of innovation. The US has always been very keen to do so. I think there's questions on monetization. There always has been when every new technology comes to market. There are questions on how you're going to monetize it. But if you don't bring it to market fast, and if you're not the first, and if you're not putting the capabilities out there, [and] enabling your services, you'll never know how you're going to get there. The US is really betting in being first and enabling users to have all these new services for the future.

"Artificial intelligence is coming--home assistants, smart homes, smart cities, all of those things are becoming real. We used to be talking about it in the past and now you're seeing it day to day. The connected cars I mentioned, driverless cars, that's something that with low latency will become possible. All of those applications will definitely be disruptive and it's a bet that US operators will make and enable. I think the consumer will [also] benefit from it."

She continued, "Immersive reality is [another] one of the very cool things that is coming--where you don't need the headsets anymore. It's a very cool thing that is coming now as an experience. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and how you can use all the data that has been collected from all these things that are now connected to the operator's network. You have cars, you have sensors, you can have so many different data points, and how you can use them. I think all of that is quite interesting and I don't think everyone has figured out. We have quite a nice application of big data for social good [at Mobile World Congress], for example, and some trials already are successful. But I think there's a whole lot of opportunities by having all of these things connected and enabling more connections, more speeds, low latency, all of those things enable a very different space for new services.

"US carriers have made quite a few bets in terms of entering adjacent industries or vertical industries. AT&T's potential merger with Time Warner for example, Verizon's bet on Oath. They're all quite an innovative way of seeing the market. It's not just about the connectivity, but it's also about all the things that can go with it. We're quite excited to see that. It's a very healthy market. It's a market that is prospering and I think the users will benefit from all of these innovations. We really don't know if that's going to translate into revenues. You see a lot of offers today that they're doing for retention of customers. Like T-Mobile offering access to Netflix, for example. AT&T did some offers with HBO, if you remember in the past. It could be that it's differentiation. You really don't know how they're going to bring it to market, but the reality is it will add value to their proposition and potentially, the customer will have a different service and they'll be able to select whoever they want to go with depending on the offer they give."

Also see

​5G planning at Mobile World Congress 2018

5G planning was a major topic at Mobile World Congress 2018.

Image: Jason Hiner/TechRepublic