When Will 5G Finally Change the World?


Interference with planes, pandemic delays, and slow network buildouts—it seems as if the problems with 5G keep adding up. However, with promises to close the digital divide through faster download and upload speeds for improved web-browsing and in-app experiences, as well as increased speeds in communication between mobile networks, 5G technology still looks to be the future.

2020 was promised as the year 5G finally would take off, but experts say the reality of 5G is that the improvements and speeds we had hoped for have not materialized.  According to carriers, not only was 5G supposed to bring about the “fourth industrial revolution,” it was supposed to revolutionize everything from smart cities to cancer treatment. Simultaneously, conspiracy theorists declared that 5G was responsible for everything from COVID-19 to migraines. For both supporters and naysayers though, the data continues to indicate that 5G has not yet had a tremendous impact on the average user. However, as the technology continues to develop, more use cases are likely to emerge.

Bright Spots for 5G 

The wireless capital expenditure is predicted to grow at a double-digit rate in 2022. Currently, there is a lot of money flowing to 5G network buildouts as wireless operators race to expand coverage. In fact, it’s likely that 2022 will be the peak year for 5G spending by wireless operators.

Besides offering faster speeds, increased reliability, and greater capacity to move more data across more devices, 5G holds much of its power in allowing businesses to optimize how they function. Here are just a few examples of the promise of 5G:

  • Healthcare – Ultra-capacity 5G enables terabytes of health data to move quickly when transferred between healthcare facilities. This can help doctors achieve a holistic view of their patients to diagnose conditions and devise treatments more efficiently. 
  • EducationBy combining 5G with other high-speed networking technologies, colleges and universities will be able to create immersive learning experiences that engage students as active participants. 
  • Field Services and Construction5G will remove the need for operators to be near the robots they control. Drones flying overhead can monitor the job site for dangerous situations, perform inspections, and provide site security while alerting operators and project managers to potential problems in real time.

While the previous generations of cellular technologies (2G through 4G) were all about faster data speeds, 5G seeks to alter the user experience. Experts believe that 5G could enable widescale adoption of blockchain technology across several aspects of society—from healthcare and education to trade financing, logistics, media, and retail.

IEEE Virtual Event Series: Hype vs. Reality of 5G

From the public’s perspective, 5G has been hyped at a fever pitch for several years now, but the impact on everyday life has been limited. TV commercials drop terms like “ultra-wideband” or “extended range” and our phones sometimes show 5G where LTE used to be – but has the general public noticed an impact? 

In this free IEEE panel discussion, our experts discuss the challenges created by how the wireless carriers have decided to promote 5G, and what the REAL value of 5G technology is likely to be. (Hint: It’s not just for consumers or phones.)

Missed the live event? You can now watch it on demand!


Bode, Karl. (2 June 2022). 6G Hype Begins Despite Fact 5G Hasn’t Finished Disappointing Us Yet. TechDirt. 

Marek, Sue. (25 March 2022). Marek’s Take: 2022 is the year of peak 5G spending. Fierce Wireless. 

Murray, Allison. (5 March 2021). Why 5G Has Been Disappointing So Far. Lifewire.

T-Mobile for Business. (19 August 2022). The Next Big Thing For 5G Is Happening Now. Forbes.

Qureshi, Mehab. (16 August 2022). 5G could change the blockchain and metaverse industry forever, experts say. The Indian Express.

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  1. 5G is Finally Here, But Questions and Issues Remain - IEEE Innovation at Work - March 6, 2023

    […] and network capacity. As such, the technology is expected to transform mobile networking and create new economic opportunities. Despite delays with the rollout in both the U.S. and parts of Europe, 5G has reached much of the […]

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