The hype surrounding 5G technology was palpable at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with industry experts touting its potential to revolutionize everything from gaming to medical services. However, the reality has not lived up to the marketing hype. Telecom companies are struggling to monetize their massive investments in 5G networks, and consumers are often left wondering what the benefits of 5G technology are over its predecessor, 4G.
The 5G Bet
Telecom companies made a big bet on 5G technology, hoping to monetize its capabilities in businesses and industrial uses. However, they also marketed 5G technology as a game-changer for consumers, which has resulted in high expectations that are not being met.
Ericsson, which supplies equipment for 5G networks, has recently laid off 8,500 people due to slumping profits. Dario Talmesio of research firm Omdia stated that “5G has disappointed pretty much everybody—service providers and consumers, and it has failed to excite businesses.”
The Ghost of 4G
One of the main issues with 5G technology is that it is not a significant improvement over 4G for the average consumer. A survey of 10,000 US consumers by Israeli software company ironSource found that many were excited about the prospect of 5G, but had little idea what benefits it would bring. Most listed services that were already available with 4G.
Jargon is another issue that has made it challenging for consumers to understand 5G technology. Terms like “low latency,” “network slicing,” “zero rating,” and “massive IoT” are unlikely to get the pulse racing.
The Debate Continues
Despite criticism of 5G technology, many industry experts are enthusiastic about its potential. Ericsson’s vice president, Fredrik Jejdling, dismissed the idea that poor uptake of 5G was one of the reasons for Ericsson’s mass layoffs. He explained that the company needed “to adjust our investment levels to the market demand.” Ericsson gave significant floor space at the MWC to 5G innovations and insisted there would be no compromise on research and development.
Verizon, one of the first companies to roll out 5G to customers in the United States, is optimistic about the technology’s potential. Frederique Liaigre, who runs Verizon’s business operation in France and other European countries, believes that there is “no limit” to 5G’s potential. She regards her projects, such as providing a private 5G network to the port of Southampton in Britain to improve its security and supply chain management, as every bit as sexy as driverless cars or talking toasters.
Whether regular consumers will ever be as enthusiastic about 5G as industry experts remains to be seen. For now, the technology remains more of a promise than a reality for many consumers.