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January 8, 2019

2019: The 5G Era Has Arrived .

2019: The 5G Era Has Arrived


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Tom Sawanobori
Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

Last January, I predicted that 2018 would be the Year of 5G. And as I look back, I think it’s safe to say that I was correct.

2018 will be remembered for the launch of 5G—a full two years ahead of what was originally envisioned. Both AT&T and Verizon turned on 5G service in select cities, with T-Mobile and Sprint announcing 5G launches in the coming months.

Regional wireless providers got in on the 5G action as well, as U.S. Cellular trialed 5G, and Cellcom partnered with Ericsson to demo 5G in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this fall.

And driving these network tests and launches was a series of 5G firsts from key technology providers:

  • Ericsson shared plans to invest in U.S. production, with the first radios built for the American market to come this year.

Qualcomm announced progress on their fully-integrated mobile mmWave 5G module which will be key for powering 5G devices.

Motorola, Samsung, Qualcomm and Verizon announced the first 5G data transmission on a smartphone.

  • Nokia and T-Mobile announced the U.S.’s first standards-based, bi-directional, over-the-air 5G data session, a key step for mobile 5G.
  • Intel announced that they conducted over 25 5G trials in 2018, including during the Winter Olympics and at the S. Open golf tournament.
  • Samsung also released the first 3GPP-based 5G NR modem and announced plans for one of the world’s first 5G smartphones.

2018 was a banner year for the wireless industry. Our members showed their commitment to innovation and investment in America’s success and I’m so proud of the progress they made.

As we turn the page to 2019, the impact of 5G is only going to grow. If 2018 was the year that 5G debuted, 2019 will be the year that people begin saying, “Oh, I know 5G. It’s arrived here too.”

We’re going to see all of the nationwide providers offering 5G service. Smaller wireless providers will also continue to make key 5G advancements.

To make these 5G networks a reality, we are going to see a lot of 5G-ready infrastructure being installed.

Device manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Motorola are working on 5G devices that we can expect to see in the first half of the year. And these devices go beyond smartphones. Netgear, HTC and other manufacturers are working on smart hubs and other IoT devices that will begin to take advantage of the speeds and capacity that 5G will bring.

As someone who participated in the launch of multiple generations of wireless throughout my career, I can’t say enough about what an important time this is for the industry and our country. 5G is expected to unlock $500 billion in economic contribution and 3 million new jobs. It’s set to make our lives safer and our surroundings smarter by revolutionizing what it means to be connected.

Welcome to 2019. The 5G Era has arrived!

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