5G starts with your phone, but is about bigger ideas

If you're finding it hard to get excited about 5G, think bigger.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The PHM HealthFront™. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
2 min read

5G is the biggest jump forward in wireless network technology -- and also one of the most opaque. It's about much more than just better "speed," yet consumers are often unsure they need 5G's manifold benefits like low latency, high density and new services placed closer to the edge of the network. We think 5G is compelling, but perhaps in a different way than 4G was.

Leo Gergs, a research analyst at ABI Research, says that may be OK. "4G was very consumer-oriented; with 5G that is starting to shift. It's vitally important that the telco industry target the enterprise," Gergs says. "But they realize the picture inside the enterprise is much more complicated" than selling 5G plans and phones to consumers. 

Watch this: Why 5G may seem underwhelming at first

Gergs also points out that much of the benefit of 5G is societal and not just for individuals and their specific needs. Goals like autonomous cars, smart cities and industrial Internet of Things promise vast benefits, but not necessarily to one of us as much as to all of us. Communicating those kinds of benefits will take more nuance and patience as they arrive over years, not months.  

"The current situation doesn't initially benefit 5G," says Gergs of the current COVID-19 shelter-in-place period and its economic uncertainty. "However, in the long term, this will benefit 5G dramatically because it better enables services that people have gotten used to," like increased reliance on remote work, education and health care.

What 5G can do for you besides fast phone downloads

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Gergs had many more insightful comments on the future of 5G and how it depends on the big picture, not just consumers. See his full conversation with Brian Cooley in the video above. 


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