5G is emerging as a key commercial battleground as the emphasis shifts from experimental deployments to hard commercial realities, suggest recent announcements in the industry.
US communications giant Verizon has announced deals with Apple and Google, making them the first video providers for its 5G wireless service later this year.
Verizon, the US’ largest wireless carrier, plans to beam 5G online services to home receivers, with the intention of delivering speeds that rival landline connections.
The home broadband service will be rolled out in Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento, and Indianapolis towards the end of the year, said Verizon, which will provide its 5G customers with either a free Apple TV box or a subscription to Google’s YouTube TV app, according to a Bloomberg report.
Verizon sees the partnership with Google and trillion-dollar Apple as the first step towards being a mobile comms and media player that can compete against the likes of AT&T and Comcast in US homes.
This is despite the unproven commercial application of 5G and the risk of signals being disrupted in home environments that are used to reliable fixed-line connections.
• In Apple news, the company is developing a chip for processing health data, according to a report on CNBC, citing recent jobs ads for ASIC and sensor architects.
EE cements dominance in UK
Meanwhile, a new survey by RootMetrics for IHS Markit shows that EE has confirmed its position as the UK’s market leader in mobile network performance, winning in all six mobile performance categories tested by the company.
The findings came from a combination of reliability and speed results from mobile internet, call, and text testing.
A previous joint winner in call performance, Three, loses its top spot in that category, while falling to third place behind Vodafone in data performance. However, Three remains in second place for overall performance, with Vodafone ranking third.
O2 is in last place out of the four main mobile operators, found the survey. However, the research data shows that the company has made improvements in the call performance category, which tests how reliably each network is able to place and maintain calls.
The 5G differentiator
The report makes some useful observations about upcoming 5G deployments as competition hots up in the mobile provider space.
The ability to deploy 5G infrastructure successfully will be the new battleground for differentiation among mobile operators, it says.
Kevin Hasley, head of Product at RootMetrics and executive director of Performance Benchmark at IHS Markit, said, “The first movers in 5G are going to have an advantage, as consumers will see a big step-change in the performance of their devices across critical functions, like live-streaming video.
“EE’s high performance in 4G testing can lead to a seamless service transition to 5G; however it will be a brand new playing field once the technology is live. 5G will give all networks an opportunity to be a leader in performance and service provision.
“However, 5G is most likely to impact on urban area performance, as it will be deployed in centres of high population density. Operators will still need to prove and maintain 4G and even 3G performance across wider geographies, as that’s how we use our phones.
“We accept that when on the move and in more rural locations that performance will be lower, but we still have expectations about minimum performance.”
Internet of Business says
As more and more 5G announcements are made, it is heartening to hear one from Verizon that has a strong – if unproven – commercial angle, rather than focusing on experimental deployments, speeds, and other technical details.
For 5G to capitalise on its potential in the years ahead, it needs to offer services that customers want and can use seamlessly and reliably, particularly if they hold out the promise of replacing others that users currently rely on.
For many people, 5G will appears incrementally as an evolution of 4G services, but for others a 5G handset in itself will be a must-have in social status terms.
But once we are over the hump of consumers being seen to have the technology – and companies being seen to offer it to their customers – 5G needs to deliver, and at a competitive price.