Apple embraces 5G. Is this the catalyst for widespread adoption?

JR Wakabayashi

Written by 16 October 2020


5G is finally here.  We’ll, not quite, but Apple does own the mobile device market share in the United States at 60% as shown in the chart below.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - OS Market Share 

In reality, 5G has been around for over a year with all the major networks currently building out their network infrastructure to meet the 5G technology and demand that is to come.  Samsung has been shipping their 5G devices for a few months and now that Apple will be shipping theirs, that should help drastically move the needle to get subscribers on the 5G bandwagon.

In fact, I personally own an iPhone 7 and now that the iPhone 12 is out, I look forward to upgrading.  So, IMHO, I believe the demand will be there for the 5G network generation upgrade.  I hope Operators can speed up their buildouts, even during this pandemic.  In Apple’s iPhone launch, Verizon’s Chairman and CEO, Hans Vestberg, noted that they are building their 5G Ultra Wide Band network, to provide ultra low-latency coverage to cover 60 cities by the end of 2020.

But no matter the Operator, 5G speeds will be nowhere near the touted 100x faster than 4G or latencies to 1ms.  The reality is that new 5G device owners will not likely see these speeds for a while.  To quickly understand why, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are building their networks utilizing a mix of low (< 1GHz), mid (1GHz – 6GHz) and high (24GHz – 40GHz) band frequencies to supply 5G bandwidth.  But each 5G band is only capable of delivering at a maximum amount of bandwidth.  For example, a low band (600-700MHz) tower can cover hundreds of square miles with 5G service that ranges in speed from 30 to 250 megabits per second (Mbps). A mid band (2.5/6GHz) tower may cover a several-mile radius with 5G that currently ranges from 100 to 900Mbps. Finally, a high band (millimeter wave/24-39GHz) tower could cover a one-mile or lower radius while delivering roughly 1-3Gbps speeds. Each of these tiers will improve in performance over time.  Utilizing a mix of these bands to deliver 5G speeds to the customer will ultimately be the most cost effective in the long run.

But in time, the speeds for 5G will deliver on the promise as was the case when the Operators switched from 3G to 4G over a decade ago.