First 5G smartphones with download speeds faster than 10 Gbps will be available in US and Asian markets by 2019, says Qualcomm CEO

The year is 2019 and you are able to download the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy movie set in just 10 minutes!!! Sounds too good to be true. But this will be the future according to Steven Mollenkopf. As of now, we are surfing the net at 4G speeds which means that we can theoretically download movies/tv-shows/files etc. at 100Mbps speeds where it is available though, in reality only Japanese and South Korean telecom companies give near that of speeds.

Steven Mollenkopf, chief executive of the world’s top maker of smartphone chips, Qualcomm said that the first of 5G smartphones will be available for sale to users in 2019 in several Asian countries and the United States. Like 4G tech, in this case also, the 5G smartphones will first be available in Japan and South Korea before coming to the United States of America. However, what is worth noting is that the year 2019 is a year earlier than 2020 projected earlier for 5G technology launch.

What is 5G?

5G standards are not yet finalized and the most advanced services are still in the pre-commercial phase. They will be significantly ahead of what’s currently available with 4G. A minimum expectation for commercial 5G services is for them to be tens of times faster than 4G, which would make even current broadband speeds look like snail pace in comparison.

How fast will be 5G?

The Next Generation Mobile Networks alliance states that for something to be considered 5G it must offer data rates of several tens of megabits per second to tens of thousands of users simultaneously, while a minimum of 1 gigabit per second should be offered to tens of workers on the same office floor.

Network Type Download Speeds
3G Network 384Kbps
4G Network 100Mbps
5G Network More than 10Gbps (theoretical)

That’s all a little vague, but the signs are promising. Some estimates put download speeds at up to 1000 times faster than 4G, potentially exceeding 10Gbps. That would enable you to download an entire HD film in less than a second.

Why 5G tech is coming in 2019 instead of 2020?

Mollenkopf gave his own reason saying in an interview that rising consumer and business demands were forcing the industry to accelerate its previous 2020 timeline to upgrade to new networks and devices.

“You will see it (5G) in real devices, on the shelf, in 2019. And if I were to answer that same question a year ago, I would have said 2020”, Mollenkopf said in an interview on the sidelines of the Frankfurt Motor Show.

However, it is well known that Nokia, Qualcomm, and other 5G tech players have been conducting pre-commercial tests and according to reports, all the tests have been successful. That could pep up the year of launch by a year. Commercialisation of 5G tech is also vital to the fortunes of makers of network equipment gear such as Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson.

5G is also important for smartphone makers like Samsung and Apple who have been left with no innovative ideas as can be seen at the launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X which are a copy of the same old same old. 5G tech could provide fresh impetus to Samsung and Apple before the other smaller players can lay their hands on the 5G tech which will be expensive at the launch before rationalizing with the economies of scale.

Unlike the prior upgrades of cellular standards 2G in the early 1990s, 3G just around the millennium and 4G in 2010, 5G standards will deliver not just faster phone or computer data but link up cars, machines, cargo and crop equipment to the Internet providing a impetus to the Internet of Things.

The Qualcomm executive said South Korea, Japan, and the United States all now had several network operators in each market preparing mainstream network launches in 2019, with China likely to join this early wave rather than lag behind.

“I think you will see the typical first movers — Korea, Japan and the United States,” he said referring to the history of 3G and 4G cellular network upgrades when South Korea and Japan moved first and the United States quickly followed.

“You will see robust demand in all of those locations, meaning that there are multiple operators wanting to be first and not be left behind. (Most) will have a different deployment strategy or goal,” he said, fuelling competition for new users.

China, far and away the world’s largest market for phones, has traditionally lagged behind these early adopters, but Mollenkopf said they are likely to join the first movers to 5G.

“What we are seeing in China is a real desire not to be a follower and to launch with everyone else. That’s new this time. From a geopolitical perspective, certain regions of the world just don’t want to be late to that game,” he said.

It is believed that the 5G tech will be first showcased at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February 2018.

So, come 2019 and we will be surfing the internet at the speed of a zooming comet!


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