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The excitement mounts

By Brian Kingston


DATELINE Monday 19 August pm. Just had a call from Judith (Business Times) ‘Where’s your article? I suppose you’re just writing it’. No, Judith, I am recovering from a hectic weekend of parties. The first on Saturday in Kent, where I had to drive 150 miles there and return the same day, because members of my beloved family did not want to stay overnight. Then Sunday afternoon another two but thankfully local.

Any way let’s continue with more on 5G.

Plenty of excitement has been created by both the run-up to 5G during the past few years, and the on-going commercial launches. The first signs of consumer enthusiasm have been encouraging. In South Korea, one million subscribers signed up for services within 10 weeks of the synchronised launch of 5G by the country’s three operators. This was a faster take-up than the corresponding period at the beginning of 4G launch, an operator said.

However, making 5G service available does not mean customers, be they consumers or businesses, would rush to embrace it in droves. The industry still needs to overcome some challenges. On the business side, in addition to making 5G more broadly available than just covering the hotspots, consumers need to be convinced that 5G is more than just incremental improvement. This is particularly meaningful now when the average replacement cycle of smartphones is getting longer, while the consumer-facing marketing of faster speed and bigger data packages is precisely putting across an ‘incremental’ message. A report recently published by the research firm NPD found that only a third of American users expressed interest in upgrading to 5G handsets when they are made available, indicating that the actual purchase intention would be much lower.

Many readers who use Apple have asked ‘when can we expect the company to manufacture a 5G handset?’ Historically Apple has been slow to adopt new network standards with its iPhone range. None of Apple’s current or previous iPhone models, including the iPhone XS and XR, support 5G, and they never will because they require a hardware upgrade to connect to 5G networks. The iPhone XS and XS Max do support faster network performance than any previous iPhone, with support for Cat 16, which is a very fast form of 4G. Cat 16 is capable of attaining peak download speeds of 1Gbps, or 1,000Mbps. Cat 16 Gigabit LTE capability will potentially provide a two to three-fold increase in 4G network speeds compared to the iPhone X and iPhone XR, both of which pack lesser Cat 12 modems.

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