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Verizon made history by becoming the first US mobile carrier to launch a 5G network that’s accessible with a compatible smartphone last week. Since the launch of these networks in Chicago and Minneapolis, reports coming in have been mixed.
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Here are the strong and weak points of Verizon’s 5G network so far:
- The network provides quick download speeds. Average download speeds of between 400Mbps and 600Mbps have been reported in Chicago since the network’s launch; for context, that’s almost 10 times faster than the average 4G LTE download speed on an iPhone XS, according to The Verge. In theory, Verizon’s 5G should be capable of hitting speeds up to 2.4Gbps, but as PCMag.com notes, the faster speeds are likely to come once software updates are made. Higher maximum speeds could increase rapidly as the software is improved with real-world feedback.
- Upload speeds are slower than expected. For users in Chicago, upload speeds were much slower than expected and, in some cases, were lower than the average 4G LTE upload speeds. 5G upload speeds in Chicago averaged 19Mbps while 4G LTE averaged 42Mbps.
- The coverage area is small and spotty. The 5G network is only available in limited parts of the cities, but even in areas where the carrier has identified 5G availability, coverage is scant. Additionally, the 5G network has a tough time providing connectivity in buildings, with its download speeds performing the same or worse than 4G LTE in tests by PCMag.com.
What it means: In the short term, the 5G network’s performance results could hurt perceptions of Verizon and 5G as a whole.
Headlines highlighting the 5G network’s spotty coverage and inconsistent speeds could impact consumer perceptions of the new technology. For consumers who may be on the fence about upgrading to a 5G data plan and compatible device, these results could be enough to convince them to wait for network improvements before making the upgrade.
Fast speeds are important for consumers — 81% identified a high-speed network as a must-have mobile offering, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Telecom Competitive Edge Report (enterprise only) — and consumers could be unwilling to pay for 5G if it’s not consistently better than the current 4G LTE offering.
The bigger picture: In the long run, initial limited coverage and unreliable speeds won’t impact the adoption of 5G.
Carriers have taken a cautious approach to their 5G rollouts because it allows them to avoid high-profile failures as they work to strengthen their technologies and capabilities. Verizon plans to expand its 5G network to 28 other cities by the end of 2019, while rival AT&T plans to be active in 21 total cities in the same period. And as the companies gather more data from commercially available networks and deeper insights from consumer feedback, speeds and coverage will only get better.
For its part, Verizon already plans to use frequent software updates for its network equipment to better its speeds and reliability. Verizon network engineering VP Mike Haberman said, via Ars Technica, that the network’s speeds “will continue to improve rapidly." AT&T has also made progress with software updates to improve the speed of its 5G network: It achieved download speeds of 1.5Gbps with its live 5G network after implementing software upgrades in February 2018.
More to Learn
Business Insider Intelligence’s 5G in the IoT report examines how the introduction of 5G is poised to transform portions of the IoT ecosystem.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Where available, 5G will enable exciting new IoT use cases, like real-time remote analytics and the remote execution of mission-critical services.
- While 5G will offer a variety of useful new capabilities for companies that provide and use IoT solutions, there will be areas where it won’t be useful within the IoT — at least not immediately.
- Companies offering IoT solutions need to look at 5G as a tool in their arsenal; the thing they need to figure out is when they can build solutions that amplify its strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, and when turn to alternatives if they can’t adequately do either.
In full, the report:
- Provides an overview of the key differences between 5G networks and today’s alternatives.
- Highlights the ways that 5G will enable new practices in the IoT.
- Presents some of the expectations for 5G from companies that will bring the standard to the world.
Interested in getting the full report? >> Purchase & Download It Now
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