Yes, if you listen to Qualcomm. No doubt, Qualcomm is an industry leader when it comes to innovations and leading the charge.
In a recent feed I got from them, they claim that massive demand will fuel the drive for 5G phones in 2019 vs. 2010. Well, let’s drill down on that a bit. This was said in a speech by Qualcomm’s CEO Steven Mollenkopf at the Frankfurt Motor Show. According to Mollenkopf, there will be much demand for 5G phones and carriers are going to hop on the bandwagon to satisfy that demand.
It is no secret that Qualcomm is heavily invested in 5G; both in the technology and in seeing it succeed beyond everyone’s wildest dreams, as witnessed by their dances with Verizon and Sprint/Softbank, as well as companies like Nokia.
But there are harsh realities involved here. While there are plenty of test beds, trials, lab demos and the like that show 5G-like performance. Most of them are still at the entry point for 5G (1 Gbps, there-a-bouts, but some are approaching 2 Gbps). While that is good, it is not great if the demand turns out to be what everybody (on the supplier’s side) hopes.
Secondly, I have seen little to suggest that everybody is going to run out and buy 5G phones as soon as they become available, or that a ubiquity of 5G services will exist. Recently, Cheatam Sharma Consulting cautioned that the rise in demand for unlimited data does not necessarily scale to pent-up demand for 5G wireless services.
Moreover, how much of the infrastructure will be in place? Will LTE be able to support the bandwidth as the primary enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) platform until the industry figures it out? So far, tests from OpenSignal show that 4G speed suffers when heavily loaded with video.
Realistically, will the 3GPP or IMT2020 systems really be all they can be by 2020, 2019, or 2018? Sharma hinted that the actual implementation of early 5G might not meet the expectations.
For now, it is best to keep the momentum up and hope the hardware, infrastructure and demand materialize. At least, that is how I perceive Qualcomm sees it.