US mobile operator Sprint isn't expecting service providers in the States to be at the forefront of deploying new 5G mobile networks at the beginning of the next decade.
The operator is expecting to see 5G "in [the] US after 2020," Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Senior Research Scientist Scott Migaldi notes in a presentation put before a 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) this September.
Migaldi is expecting initial 5G commercial launches "early to mid-2020." At this point in time, it appears that Asian operators NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) will be amongst the first service providers to deploy 5G. (See DoCoMo & EE Share 5G Visions and Q&A: SK Telecom Talks All Things 5G.)
The 3GPP is starting to define the specifications for fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks now. Migaldi expects "global proof of concepts from Asia" in 2018.
At its highest level, 5G will be tens of times faster than current 4G networks, and possibly even faster, allowing users to download an HD movie to a compatible future 5G smartphone in mere seconds. In practice, this will mean using new radio frequencies, antenna designs, artificial intelligence (AI) alogorithms and much more. (See Ericsson CTO: Artificial Intelligence Will Make 5G Smarter.)
Concerns about the US losing its perceived 4G "lead" with the move to 5G were raised by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler at the beginning of this month. The FCC is expected to move ahead with rule-making on 5G usage on spectrum at 24GHz and above this month. (See FCC Chair Wants to Take 5G Higher.)
Of course, not every US operator takes the post-2020 viewpoint. Verizon Wireless has set an aggresive timetable to start field testing 5G in 2016, with an eye to some limited commercial deployments the year after! This would be an extremely ambitious deadline, however, as prototype systems with revamped 5G air interfaces aren't expected before 2018. (See Is This the 5G You're Looking For?)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading