Listen, is it 2020 or not? I mean, it’s the FUTURE.
According to Sparxoo’s 2020 Digital Marketing Trends Report, the natural follow-up to the rapid spread of Progressive Web Applications (PWA) was the implementation of “cutting-edge capabilities of 5G and browser modernization.”
We were supposed to be able to grab a 100 GB game in about a minute, rather than the 7,000 hours it takes using your mundane 600- or 700-MHz WiFi connection.
The glorious advent of the next big thing in wireless connectivity was supposed to be upon us, wasn’t it? Wasn’t our digital world going to be rocked by this new, ridiculously fast internet signal everyone’s been hyping for so long?
So … where is my 5G?
Are We Losing the 5G Race?
It seems as though telecom giants T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and others have been in this race forever, chasing the greatest technological breakthrough since Ben Franklin tied a key to a kite string. To be fair, 5G actually has been rolled out in dribs and drabs to a few markets around the country the past couple of years (hey, good for you, Cleveland).
The idea was to leave even the fastest WiFi signal in the virtual dust. A 5G signal, in theory, would provide much greater speed, far less latency and the ability to connect many more devices at once than 4G cellular signals.
But limitations in signal strength and equipment development have stalled any 5G momentum in the United States. Long story short: The current nature of a 5G signal won’t let it travel very far, or through solid objects.
Meanwhile, Chinese telecom beast Huawei has made significant headway on 5G, which has U.S. politicians so spooked that they’re contemplating a $1.2-billion subsidy for American companies to get off their butts and get 5G done, already.
It’s a much-needed incentive, apparently. Consider: Verizon cautioned this month that it won’t be launching in-home 5G capability until the second half of 2020, at the earliest. It was the second time Verizon delayed its home 5G release – not a great sign.
Why is it taking so long? Then again, why does it even matter?
Why 5G Matters for Connectivity, Design
First, it seems to be taking so long because we have been anticipating the emergence of 5G for at least two years. A Google Trends comparison chart showing searches for “4G” and “5G” shows that 4G was a far more popular search term until 2018, at which point the trend lines reversed:
Clearly, people care about 5G.
And it matters because the promise of 5G really does have the power to reshape everything we know about design and connectivity.
Think about the transition from clunky 3G to 4G broadband in the early-mid 2010s. The functionality of our smartphones blew up. Suddenly, even without a wireless connection, we could listen to music, watch streaming video, download games, get driving directions instantly, and so many more activities that quickly have become commonplace.
Now, think about the gradual improvements in download speed and increased capability we’ve enjoyed in the runup to widespread 5G. Nice, right? The “5G lite” LTE signal from AT&T and others give us fairly smooth streaming and downloading.
Once 5G kicks in at full throttle, today’s speeds will seem like the Model T.
It’s even going to be a big topic of discussion this week among the corporate honchos at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Don Rosenberg, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Qualcomm, explained the coming digital and technological boon:
“The technologies within 5G were and continue to be designed to vastly expand network capacity so cars, utility grids, appliances, medical devices, industrial machinery, homes, cities, farms and more can all be connected. And 5G will reduce delays and improve reliability, thereby enabling mission-critical tasks such as remote surgery, self-driving cars and enhanced public safety, to make possible secure connections so lightning-fast that an entire movie can be downloaded in seconds.”
Creatives: Let Your Imagination Soar
We’re ready for it RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, as mentioned, we’re probably still a couple of years away from widespread 5G capability. This is the year that telecom companies will expand their 5G infrastructure, and tech manufacturers will begin to roll out the 5G-enabled devices and gadgets en masse soon.
It’s still a game of hurry up and wait. Meanwhile, creatives in digital marketing can feel free to let their imaginations run wild.
How will the removal of speed barriers affect your ability to deliver fantastic, effective content? What crazy, new design elements will be possible when widespread rapidity becomes the norm?
We’re ready for it. We’re ready for it NOW. Are you?