Truly wireless services will be the key segment in wireless carrier’s efforts to recoup their 5G investments in the long term, Barclays wrote in a note to investors sent earlier this week. The British financial giant acknowledged the current focus on fixed-wireless solutions but said it remains convinced that the next major evolution of mobile wireless networks won’t be effectively monetized until the technology is utilized for “true mobility.” Barclays pointed out there’s a strong historical precedent for its forecast, in addition to indicating that the current focus on fixed-wireless services is understandable as mobile service providers are eager to start seeing some returns on their investments even though 5G is still more than a year away from being commercialized in the United States.
In the long term, the telecom industry is expected to experiment with a wide variety of products and services enabled by 5G networks in an effort to identify new revenue growth engines and diversify its operations, thus making them less reliant on any individual industry segment. Among other things, wireless carriers are already testing or are expected to soon start experimenting with over-the-top media services and augmented reality applications, as well as various solutions targeted at healthcare, Internet of Things, and numerous other industries. The self-driving revolution should also benefit from 5G as autonomous vehicles will have to send and receive large amounts of data in real time, which is another potential growth avenue the telecom sector is exploring.
Barclays analyst Ami Rozwadowski acknowledged 5G still has a long road ahead of it, especially as Internet providers are yet to tackle a number of aspects of their future business models, with the possibly most important one of them all being pricing. Regardless, the current state of affairs that sees technology progressing faster than businesses can evolve is much more desirable than a scenario in which wireless carriers already fully defined their strategies but cannot execute them due to technological limitations, the analyst suggested. According to recent estimates made by Qualcomm, 5G networks will be commercialized in the first half of 2019 and should be available on a national level by 2020.