US operators endeavor to generate interest in 5G post-COVID-19

US carriers are hoping the second half of 2020 will give them an opportunity to sell 5G services as the technology and coverage improves, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Lynnette Luna, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “5G technology is the revenue opportunity of the next decade, and carriers are in a race to increase their 5G footprints and technical capabilities in time for what they hope will be a big Christmas selling season for 5G with the iPhone 12 on the market.

“While US operators are seeing demand for core voice, data and collaboration services among consumer and enterprise customers that need to leverage remote communication while social distancing, 5G is such a nascent technology that the addition of a global pandemic is bound to have a dampening effect on the market opportunity. In the consumer market, there is still no 5G iPhone (until September at the earliest), and in general, carriers are having some trouble explaining to customers why they need to upgrade to 5G.

Even without the pandemic, there has been limited uptake of new and expensive 5G devices that don’t provide clear benefits as most of the same applications and services can be accomplished over LTE. 5G is definitely a work in progress.”

Early criticisms of the rollouts have revolved around poor coverage, sluggish performance for low-band deployments and expensive smartphones. As such, carriers have kept a low profile when it comes to marketing 5G. Yet operators are trying to make H2 2020 a much different story. All three nationwide operators are aiming have 5G footprints that are significantly better than today’s with more technological advances that should differentiate the performance of 5G from existing LTE networks by year-end 2020 or early 2021—just as the iPhone 12 hits the market.

US carriers will incorporate a number of technologies to improve 5G data speeds and latency. These include standalone 5G, dynamic spectrum sharing and carrier aggregation.

Luna continues: “All carriers will push their 5G stories harder toward the end of 2020. While T-Mobile is the only US carrier with a nationwide 5G network today, rivals AT&T and Verizon are expected to significantly expand their networks in time for the market introduction of the iPhone 12, which is expected to incorporate 5G.” 

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