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Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Summary
  • With Apple’s recent record sales of its 5G-capable iPhone 12 series and the FCC’s $81B mid-band auction, questions are simmering as to whether we are seeing a 5G upgrade super cycle – and when the carrier race to roll out 5G will finally make its promise real for consumers.
  • While the experience of most consumers with 5G so far has been in the slower low band, it is the mid band that will be the “sweet spot” of speed, range and reduced interference. Among the carriers, T-Mobile is charting a path to a nationwide mid-band network by 2022.
  • For the telecom giants, the 5G race may be an existential battle. With the faster potential of 5G, carriers are also aiming it towards fixed wireless access (FWA) – competing against home broadband. In some metropolitan neighborhoods, 5G is already faster than home wifi.
  • The use cases for connectivity will evolve along with the network – and many will take time to emerge. Some are relatively easy to predict as extensions of what’s already happening today with media-rich applications. What is harder to predict and not always obvious are the consumer behaviors and habits that will adapt to what 5G connectivity allows.
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