When will 5G become mainstream?

Technology: 5G smartphones should be mainstream from 2023

It will be a few years before 5G arrives in the mass market. While up to 13 percent of all delivered smartphones could already support 5G from next year, especially due to the expensive premium segment, the mass will not offer the standard until 2023.

Premium from now, bulk from 2023

At the Global Sources Mobile Electronics 2019 in Hong Kong, analysts explain that 180 million 5G-enabled smartphones could already be delivered in the coming year. An analyst from Canalys explained in his remarks at the symposium that this number would steadily increase in the following years, so that in 2023 around 52 percent of all smartphones shipped would offer 5G and would have overtaken 4G models and the mainstream market would be achieved in this way.

One obstacle at the beginning is the price, which is expected to fall to an average of less than 650 US dollars in the coming year. Only with emerging Asian manufacturers and the resulting cheaper smartphones could 5G be established in the mass market. These are already in position, MediaTek recently announced that it will deliver its first 5G chip from 2020 for series use at Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, and the second generation from its own company is also targeted for completion at the end of 2020.

Infrastructure still under construction

As is well known, smartphones are only one side of the coin. Without the right infrastructure, the corresponding mobile phone is of no use if it does not have a network that supports it. More and more manufacturers are therefore discovering the large growth market, which not only consists of the erection of masts and technology, but also the much larger computing capacities that are necessary for many new services in the background. At the start of the MWC in Los Angeles, for example, Nvidia announced that it wanted to integrate its own GPUs more closely into the 5G ecosystem with Ericsson and Red Hat, so that they could shoulder some of the burden.

However, it will take some time before this technology is also purchased and installed by the network operators in the respective countries. In Germany, which is not among the world's best in these matters, but rather a developing country, the telecommunications companies are currently still boasting of installing additional 4G masts in order to improve network coverage in this regard. In many parts of the country, with the exception of metropolitan areas, 5G is still a long way off; by the end of 2021, 99 percent of all households in Germany should be covered with LTE.

  • Volker Ri├čka Email
    ... has been writing about CPUs, their architectures and manufacturing processes as well as mainboards and RAM since 2002.