AT&T, Verizon, mobile 5G and what’s coming next in wireless

5G is coming on strong. Let’s take a look at what AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile, Apple with the iPhone and Google with their Android and others are doing. Let’s take a look at what 5G services are available today and what’s coming next.

5g wireless mobile data connection
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In the race to mobile 5G, it seems AT&T and Verizon are in it to be first. While I understand there is an honor that goes to the winner, in the scheme of things does it really make much of a difference to users? After all both Apple iPhone and Google Android compete and Apple is always later with 5G, by choice.

After all, over time, both AT&T and Verizon were tops in 2G, 3G and 4G. Will 5G be any different depending on who is first? I guess it has to do with bragging rights. So, let’s take a closer look at what is available today and what’s coming next.

The kick-off for this new game is that mobile 5G is already available today in some markets from AT&T Mobility. That will expand over coming years. However, if you want to use 5G services today, you may just be in luck if you are an AT&T Mobility customer in one of their newly upgrade markets.

Bringing 5G to market is complex. It means putting all the slices together. Today, only AT&T has some markets ready. The problem is there are no handsets that operate on this new technology. So, until they are, AT&T has come up with a solution. A way for their customers to get 5G signal and speeds, without a 5G smartphone or tablet.

AT&T Mobility users get mobile 5G now with Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot

AT&T Mobility is doing something very innovative. They are partnering with NETGEAR and using the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot device.

Think of this device like the wi-fi available in Starbucks, McDonalds or countless other retailers. However, with this device, you are out and about and not stuck at one place.

The Nighthawk connects to the 5G network and you connect to it with your 4G iPhone, Android or another smartphone. The Nighthawk is a bridge that lets you get 5G speeds even if you don’t yet have a 5G device.

Get 5G speeds without a 5G smartphone or tablet

In fact, even after 5G devices are in the marketplace, users can continue to use this device. That means even though Apple will not likely update to 5G iPhones early on, users will still be able to get 5G speeds.

That also means users won’t have to rush out and buy first generation 5G devices until they are ready. This puts the user in control over timing.

This is a big head start for AT&T and their customers who really want mobile 5G and live in a place where the network has been upgraded. AT&T has a very aggressive upgrade schedule. They always lead moving into the next generation of devices and it looks like they are doing the same thing with 5G.

Verizon Wireless 5G Home and mobile 5G

Verizon Wireless is beginning their move into this new technology with a service called 5G Home. This is 5G, but it is not a mobile offering. I think they may likely use this 5G Home service to ultimately offer a wireless pay TV or FiOS service to their users.

While Verizon users cannot get mobile 5G yet, that should begin later next year. As 5G continues to roll out over the next few years, I expect to see both AT&T and Verizon battling for first place in the minds of the marketplace. While this gives the winner bragging rights, I see both being real players in this new space, eventually.

Wireless pay TV will grow using 5G

So, as you can see, AT&T and Verizon are taking two very different paths to 5G. When asking the average customer, what is the meaning of 5G, the answer is generally a faster wireless service.

While that is absolutely true, 5G is not just a wireless service. It is also going to play a role in the wireline world. This new service will let companies offer fast wireless and fast home or office services. It will also empower new companies to move their business to the wireless space.

I think wireless pay TV will be a service competing with the traditional cable TV and wireline IPTV or Internet pay TV. This will empower and radical transformation over several years in pay TV. Who will the leaders be when the dust settles?

This will be the direction for a new wave of competitors in more traditional communications services like telephone, Internet and pay TV.

5G will empower transformation like Uber and Lyft in taxi industry

5G will also give new competitors a chance to reinvent more traditional businesses. Think about the way Uber and Lyft have reinvented the traditional and sleepy taxi and limousine industries. Now, think about the way wireless pay TV will transform traditional cable television. We will end up with many more competitors in the pay TV space.

What else will be transformed? That’s the real question. The answer will blow you away. Every industry will transform. There will be early, transformational companies. Some of them may be from newcomers like Uber and Lyft, or from existing players like AT&T and Verizon in the pay TV space, or from the cable TV world like Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum and Altice.

Cable TV expanding with Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, Altice Mobile

In fact, we are seeing the more traditional cable TV competitors jumping into wireless. Comcast jumped in a year and a half ago with Xfinity Mobile. Charter jumped in a few months ago with Spectrum Mobile. Altice is expected to jump in next year with Altice Mobile.

This is all very exciting as we are watching traditional industries completely reinvent themselves and expand.

5G is coming on strong and every company involved with wireless from networks to handset makers are all trying to capture the attention of the marketplace.

Expect massive change on every device and service we use today. Expect non-wireless companies to jump into the cellular world just like Comcast, Charter and Altice.

This change will happen over the next several years. Early adopters are companies who offer these services first, and their customers who want to be first. Then there are the others who will wait for these new paths to be trailblazed before starting their new journey.

Early adopters pave the way with 5G wireless going forward

Looking at the world from these goggles, AT&T is the early adopter, blazing new trails and taking the arrows. Verizon comes along next. They don’t pave new roads, but they grow as well.

This is the way these two have always operated and both AT&T and Verizon remain the industry leaders. This is similar to Google Android vs. Apple iPhone where one rushes into the next generation technology and the other waits.

T-Mobile and Sprint have a more difficult path when it comes to transitioning to 5G and leading. T-Mobile has the marketing pizzazz but has little spectrum. Sprint has plenty of spectrum, but little in the way of marketing expertise. If they can eventually merge, the future looks strong for them as well.

T-Mobile and Sprint 5G path is less clear before merger approval

Any way you slice it, I hope you can see how this move toward the new world of 5G will empower the wireless industry, from networks to handset and tablet makers to all the business connectivity services. It will also impact every business in every industry. The early adopters will lead the way and the other competitors will follow them.

The next decade will be fast and furious and wireless will be right in the middle of that universe. I love that because I have been watching wireless for more than 30 years. It’s an amazing place and things are just going to explode from here.

So, whether you are a consumer, business customer, government customer or player in any industry. Whether you prefer AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint, I have one simple question to ask you. Are you ready for explosive transformational growth and change? I hope so. That’s what coming next whether you are a consumer or responsible for a large organization.

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