By Brendan Connelly | May 5, 2022
5G technology may be a familiar term, but many may not know exactly what this means for cellular networks. 5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks, with the goal of creating a network with higher data speeds, lower delays, increased network expansion, as well as increased availability. In short, the goal of 5G is to provide users with a more efficient and higher performing network for wireless technologies. Cellular companies have devoted significant resources to rolling out 5G networks, which is evident by AT&T and Verizon spending almost $70 billion on part of the wireless spectrum called C-band, which allows for covering a wider area, but still at high speeds. The rollout of 5G by cellular companies has faced some significant obstacles. Deployment for 5G networks began in 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered how quickly the network could be rolled out. Concerns over 5G technology interfering with airplane equipment has also hindered just how expansive this rollout can be, given companies have had to pause establishing 5G towers around airports. In addition, the 5G rollout has been met with misinformation and conspiracy theories. An infamous example was the theory that the Covid-19 pandemic was a cover-up for illnesses caused by 5G radiation. This has amounted to approximately only 8% of global cellular users using 5G, and at the current rate, 5G will not be able to overtake 4G in popularity.
However, despite these difficulties, it is expected that 5G users will continue to grow, with projections that roughly 1 billion people will be using 5G by the end of the year. By 2025, it is expected that 5G use will grow by 25%. The rollout of 5G has also created an interesting competition between the U.S.’s major cell carriers: T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. Throughout this rollout, T-Mobile has had the advantage, but AT&T and Verizon are beginning to slowly catch up. Verizon recently announced that roughly 100 million people will be covered by their 5G networks, but this is still well behind the 210 million people covered by T-Mobile. AT&T has also recently announced two new exciting 5G phone plans, which may further lessen the gap T-Mobile has created in the 5G sector. As more development continues, these companies will have to devise new cellular plans which can entice consumers to choose their 5G plans over the competition.
Edited by Rachel Kunka and Zachary Elias