This last weekend saw a flurry of early-bird announcements ahead of CES 2019 (Jan 8-11) in Las Vegas. And the incoming 5G cellular network is certainly catching a fair share of attention. One question we are asked more-and-more often is: “Should I get a new 5G phone this year?”
We are fairly comfortable in recommending that people not get too excited about the 5G rollout in our area. Why? Because the technology will start in just a handful of the biggest Metro areas, and it will not be “full fledged” 5G anyway.
From all the marketing we have seen during the last year this advice may seem conservative, but the reality of the situation is quite different from the marketing.
5G is a very short-range technology and will require many, many more towers than are currently in place to give coverage to the same geographic area.
5G is actually a “suite” of technologies, which will not be fully rolled out in the beginning. Some areas will see services sooner than others, and service will suffer as a result. (not just the perception of service)
5G will be expensive to implement, and that cost will be passed on to the consumer. As with any advance in service, it is always hoped the consumer will be willing to pay “a little more” for the improvement. That, coupled with the extra cost for the electronics in the mobile phone (maybe $200 over the equivalent 4G LTE capable phone), will mean more than just getting a new phone to enjoy the benefit of the new service.
So our advice is to sit 2019 out unless you are spending a lot of your time in the prime locations for the initial rollout. And if you are going to bite the bullet, be sure to do a little research on interoperability between carriers in your area. It looks as if each carrier is implementing their own flavor of 5G, which will limit your service even further.