These two charts tell a critical truth about 5G

TOP OF THE CHARTS: Just two graphics from a new report by networking-equipment company Cisco show why the 5G hype is justified, but also perhaps a bit premature.

Feb 24, 2020 07:04:00 AM | Article | Matthew Miller

A new report from Cisco—a giant in networking equipment, software and services—has two key charts that marketers and agencies would do well to bear in mind regarding the rollout of 5G technology.

The Cisco Annual Internet Report, 2018–2023, contains a great deal of detail about all types of internet connections and devices. But the following two charts stand out for helping to put 5G into proper perspective.  

Chart 1 - Global mobile device and connection growth:

In 2023, Cisco predicts, 10.6% of devices or connections will be 5G (13% in APAC, see bonus chart below). So despite the high level of hype about 5G, it is not—repeat, not—making a significant impact this year, or next year, or arguably in 2023. It will take time to roll out and reach critical mass.

Of course, 1.1 billion 5G connections by 2023 is a lot of fast connections. But the dawn of a 5G-enabled world is not coming as quickly as you might imagine based on the level of press attention it's been getting (present company included, see box below). By all means, companies should be thinking and planning ahead. But they shouldn't expect overnight transformation. Moreover, because rollout predictions depend on companies making massive investments to buy the equipment and get it up and running, overall economic conditions play a role, and the predictions could end up being optimistic. 

Bonus chart - Mobile connections by network type, 2023 regional percentage share:

Chart 2 - Global mobile average speeds by network type:

This chart shows that 5G speeds will be 13 times higher than the average mobile connection by 2023. In this sense, the hype is very real. The speed 5G promises to deliver really will be transformative—it's a nonlinear leap.

Bonus chart - Global mobile average speeds by device type:

At the same time, remember that Chart 2 shows the highest possible connection speed. A given individual using 5G will see that speed. But when you look at the average speed of all types of connections across all smartphones, the boost 5G will contribute, while still impressive, is not quite so eye-popping.  

(This article first appeared on Campaign India will be hosting a panel discussion around 5G which will talk about its impact in the personalised communications world and how marketers can use it to connect with consumers. Register to attend the summit here.)