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A Glimpse Into 5G's Impact On Retail Mobile – Forbes

A Glimpse Into 5G's Impact On Retail Mobile – Forbes

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Is that fast? I think that was fast.

If you’re like me, where you pay attention to technology trends but are not necessarily steeped in any one specific technology, then you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about 5G. It really got onto my radar in January at the National Retail Federation Big Show. Nokia had their 4G/5G robot demonstration at the event, and besides the fact that it had robots in it, the demonstration really stuck with me.

My conclusion: when people say that 5G is “faster” than 4G, you really have no idea how fast. You really don’t. The robots help drive the point home, but until you can see a mobile web page load on 4G vs. 5G, on your own phone, I think it’s hard for most people to really grasp how much faster 5G is.

But one of the more exciting developments around 5G is that it is built to be IoT-friendly, as the Nokia video talks about. As more devices get out there and need to talk to each other, the need to access a high-speed cellular network will only put more pressure on 4G. On the other hand, a lot of the latency issues for things like digital signage responding to NFC would be pretty much solved by 5G – and that would be good news indeed.

As much as it’s exciting to contemplate blow-your-hair-back speeds and an IoT future, 5G is still a ways off. There are no settled standards yet, and there are already at least two groups – one in Europe and one in the US – that are running tests even without those agreed-upon standards. Two groups, two different tests – that doesn’t bode well for the future of alignment on standards. Some analysts in the hardware space are predicting 5G-ready phones as soon as 2019, which is impressive given that standards alignment has not been achieved. Carriers themselves predict 2020 to launch.

Implications For Retail

5G is different than 4G. Part of the reason it’s taking so long to get here is because it requires a substantial infrastructure investment on the part of the carriers. 5G means shorter wavelengths, which means the need for more towers to get coverage. And these shorter waves don’t penetrate buildings as well as 4G (and we all know how well that turns out to truly be).

So while 5G will deliver speeds that are fast enough to potentially render WiFi obsolete, the interior of buildings – I’m thinking specifically about stores here – will be even blacker black holes than they are today.

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bigstockphoto.com

Is that fast? I think that was fast.

If you’re like me, where you pay attention to technology trends but are not necessarily steeped in any one specific technology, then you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about 5G. It really got onto my radar in January at the National Retail Federation Big Show. Nokia had their 4G/5G robot demonstration at the event, and besides the fact that it had robots in it, the demonstration really stuck with me.

My conclusion: when people say that 5G is “faster” than 4G, you really have no idea how fast. You really don’t. The robots help drive the point home, but until you can see a mobile web page load on 4G vs. 5G, on your own phone, I think it’s hard for most people to really grasp how much faster 5G is.

But one of the more exciting developments around 5G is that it is built to be IoT-friendly, as the Nokia video talks about. As more devices get out there and need to talk to each other, the need to access a high-speed cellular network will only put more pressure on 4G. On the other hand, a lot of the latency issues for things like digital signage responding to NFC would be pretty much solved by 5G – and that would be good news indeed.

As much as it’s exciting to contemplate blow-your-hair-back speeds and an IoT future, 5G is still a ways off. There are no settled standards yet, and there are already at least two groups – one in Europe and one in the US – that are running tests even without those agreed-upon standards. Two groups, two different tests – that doesn’t bode well for the future of alignment on standards. Some analysts in the hardware space are predicting 5G-ready phones as soon as 2019, which is impressive given that standards alignment has not been achieved. Carriers themselves predict 2020 to launch.

Implications For Retail

5G is different than 4G. Part of the reason it’s taking so long to get here is because it requires a substantial infrastructure investment on the part of the carriers. 5G means shorter wavelengths, which means the need for more towers to get coverage. And these shorter waves don’t penetrate buildings as well as 4G (and we all know how well that turns out to truly be).

So while 5G will deliver speeds that are fast enough to potentially render WiFi obsolete, the interior of buildings – I’m thinking specifically about stores here – will be even blacker black holes than they are today.

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