2018 MWC Reignites 5G Race: Mobile Industry Might Be The Key To Worldwide 5G Breakthrough

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5G was a hot topic at the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Verizon and Samsung once again spearheaded the conversation and likewise reignited the race to introducing 5G networks in the United States.

According to CNET, Verizon and Samsung shared the companies’ joint effort on making 5G a reality at the 2017 MWC last year. Roger Gurnani, who was the VP of Communications at Verizon at the time, talked about the field trials that the companies conducted in their quest to develop 5G service.

Gurnani surprised both the Samsung executive who shared the stage with him at the 2017 MWC and the world when he proclaimed that Samsung would have a 5G phone by 2018. Unfortunately, Gurnani’s prediction did not come true. There was no sight of a 5G phone at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

However, Gurnani’s bold statement at last year’s Mobile World Congress seems to have reignited the race for 5G networks in the United States. At the 2018 MWC, more mobile carriers shared their plans for 5G connection.

Once again, Verizon took the lead—this time with AT&T— and announced their plan to launch limited 5G service by the end of 2018. Verizon’s Chief Technology Officer, Hans Vestberg, gave little information about the company’s 5G launch but did promise that the mobile carrier would be the first to offer 5G service. Meanwhile, AT&T plans to have 5G service available for its consumers by the end of 2018. Sprint and T-Mobile announced their intention to release 5G service by 2019.

Based on a report by Reuters, introducing 5G will come at a steep price. Theoretically, 5G networks can open up the world to a whole new level of connectivity from self-driving cars to smart homes and more.

However, it seems the mobile industry will introduce consumers to 5G service. So far, smartphones with 5G capability are not on the market. According to Reuters, Qualcomm gave the world a sneak peek at 5G phone chipset at the 2018 MWC. It was a prototype at best, leading most analysts at the event in Barcelona to predict that 5G smartphones would not be widely available until 2019—the same time Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch their 5G service nationwide in the U.S. An alleged 5G device was also exhibited by a small smartphone manufacturer in Barcelona, but when the unit was dropped, the internals were revealed to be empty.

Currently, the U.S. seems to be ahead of the 5G race based on the 2018 MWC. Asia is a close second with Japan and South Korea slated to launch 5G service by 2019. China, another significant leader in the tech industry, is predicted to join the 5G race in 2020. Reuters reported that 5G networks will be slowly introduced in Europe starting in 2020 and will not take drastic steps to launch the service nationwide until 2025.