While just two of the six North American carrier executives we surveyed expect to charge more for 5G compared to 4G, 71% of the entire global carrier executive base expects a 5G price hike.
Three of the six North American executives surveyed in Kagan's August B2B 5G survey expressed no plans for rate increases, making North America the least likely of all regions we reviewed to charge more for 5G.
- American and Canadian consumers already pay among the highest bills for wireless in the world, at around $40 per month, perhaps giving operators pause on rate hikes.
- While South Korean operators are even under scrutiny from regulators for offering heavily subsidized 5G device discounts, this also no doubt helped the country top 3 million new 5G subs as of September 9, 2019.
As the clock ticks down on an informal timeline for a decision from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on how to open up crucial 5G spectrum, competing industry interests continue to clash over how to free it up.
The primary issue is what the commission should do with the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band, commonly referred to as the C-band. The band is currently allocated in the U.S. for fixed-satellite service or space-to-Earth transmissions, such as the satellite delivery of cable and broadcast network programming to TV stations, radio services and cable facilities. However, the FCC is looking at opening it up for wireless use.
- Two rival industry proposals have emerged in comments submitted to the FCC.
- At an Oct. 8 conference on C-band hosted by The Capitol Forum, a news and legal analysis group, representatives from groups behind both of the plans made their case for why they believe the FCC should adopt their respective plans.
As of July 2019, Kagan noted that 36 mobile operators from 21 markets worldwide have launched their commercial 5G services to business or individual consumers, either through mobile or fixed wireless services.
June 2019 was the busiest month so far, seeing commercial launches from 12 operators in Bahrain, Italy, Kuwait, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia and Spain. Four operators in Germany, Monaco and the United Kingdom were the most recent additions in July 2019.
- Sporting events continue to serve as testbeds for massive-scale 5G trials or launches, such as the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt in June of 2019, the Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines coming in November, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan in July 2020.
- 5G equipment vendors continue to sign more deals.
As wireless operators begin lighting up next-generation 5G networks, the combination of faster mobile broadband speeds coupled with massive modern data loads is expected to drive an emerging technology: edge computing.
Edge computing aims to make data processing more efficient by cutting down on the distance that information must travel. The major U.S. wireless carriers are all testing edge processing platforms to compete for this next wave of computing, with demand driven by increased data consumption as consumers, businesses and municipalities embrace a growing number of connected devices, and the internet of things expands.
- While cloud computing's central processing servers opened up new possibilities for data storage, edge computing brings more processing power closer to where the data is generated.
- Some edge computing applications are already in use, but the rise of faster 5G mobile networks and the ability to put more computing power in smaller and smaller microchips are expected to ramp up demand for edge computing.
- The rise of edge computing will not directly threaten existing cloud providers like Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. Rather, edge computing is expected to develop alongside the cloud as an option for processing large amounts of data from local devices.
As faster mobile networking technology arrives in the Asia-Pacific countries, the region's fragmented multiplayer online gaming sector stands to benefit from new investments by livestreaming platforms and gaming companies.
Industry-watchers predict that new 5G networks, which offer faster, more reliable mobile streaming capabilities, will usher esports into the mainstream, making the video games sector ripe for a new "Netflix Inc.-like" platform that would bring together various gaming opportunities.
- The combination of new 5G networks with emerging edge computing services could quicken the arrival of "something similar to Netflix [for video games].
- China, South Korea and Japan, which are leading the race to build 5G networks, should see the impact first.
- Livestreaming platforms and gaming companies in the region have already begun preparing for 5G.