Matthew Miller
Feb 24, 2020

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.

Chongqing China (Shutterstock)
Chongqing China (Shutterstock)

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.  

5G coverage in Campaign Asia-Pacific

Jan 29, 2020
Three reasons why 5G will revolutionise marketing for Asia
In a mobile-first region with an insatiable appetite for the latest tech advances, Verizon Media believes 5G is a huge opportunity for brands to create immersive campaigns that are content-rich, customised and compelling across a myriad of platforms.

Sep 24, 2019
Start thinking about the giant leap into 5G
Time is running out for marketers to look at how 5G’s superlative bandwidth and lightning speeds will transform digital advertising.

Sep 16, 2019
Is there anything 5G can't do?
THE WORK: 'Huxley' for Vodafone New Zealand by DDB New Zealand with Sweetshop.

Jul 10, 2019
How 5G will affect marketing communications
Faster speeds will make advanced creative technologies mainstream, and allow AI-driven campaigns to instantly adjust to changing environments. Steve Yi at Geometry Korea asks, will you be ready?

Jun 17, 2019
What will daily life be like with 5G?
THE WORK: In a campaign by M&C Saatchi Spencer Hong Kong, SmarTone suggests that it will involve playing table tennis against robots and painting skyscrapers with blasts from a smartphone.

Aug 21, 2019
Why advertisers can't afford to screw up 5G
When thinking about optimal user experience, we need to take into account more than individual ads, Zenith's mobile specialist warns.

Mar 4, 2019
Believe the 5G buzz: Report from the Mobile World Congress
The impact 5G will have on business and commerce was on full display at last week's Mobile World Congress, according to McCann Worldgroup's chief digital officer.

The Cisco report contains a wealth of other tidbits that might be of interest. For example, it says that 299 billion mobile applications will be downloaded in 2023. And within this, Asia Pacific will download the highest percentage (40.3%), or 183.2 billion apps (up from 120.7 billion in 2018).

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