5G is Here, Sort of.

This past week, Apple announced the new iPhone lineup that most notably included capabilities for 5G network and speed. This was a largely anticipated event, with over 1.8million people tuning in around the world to watch their new release. This annual event has really become a world-wide spectacle, but is it warranted?

At last September’s iPhone announcement, many were disappointed that there was no 5G option on their soon-to-be-upgraded iPhones. Analysts and speculators rushed to talk about
how iPhone 11 sales would underperform as people would wait to upgrade when new technology was available. So now that a 5G iPhone model is available, people are hoping this spurs a boom in sales and a new “super-cycle” will begin.

While that may be true, it might also be surprising to hear that most people getting the new iPhone won’t be able to take full advantage of the phone’s capabilities for another few years.

Why is that?

AT&T and T-Mobile don’t have 5G capabilities yet, but Verizon does. And what no one is telling consumers is that the Verizon 5G network available today, runs on the same spectrum bands used by Verizon’s 4G. Verizon’s millimeter-wave version of 5G, the fast upgrade everyone wants, is only available today in New York City and San Francisco, with plans
to launch soon in Los Angeles and Chicago. Providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile can charge more for 5G data, so they will have an incentive to build out this new network faster. But for such a big event, it makes sense to hype up the notion that this is the “best”
iPhone yet. As we recall, every iPhone launch has been the best yet! This phone might include 5G capabilities, but once you begin looking under the hood at what this means for the average
consumer, the need to upgrade dwindles.

What might be more interesting is that the trends in technology are changing so rapidly. This begs the question when will 6G come out? If someone in Burlington, VT or Nashville, TN
might not have 5G millimeter-wave coverage (the fast one) for a year or two from now, will we already be talking about 6G?

Cell phones have been around a long time (since 1984 if you read our last note) but have only just recently become essential to our daily, remote, COVID-19 oriented lives.  It’s not too farfetched to envision a world in ten or fifteen years from now, where the 10G microchips in our brains are seamlessly communicating with the Keurig in your kitchen to brew your morning cup of coffee as our eyelids are opening in the morning.

However, before we turn into cell-phone-less robots, don’t be disappointed if your brand-new iPhone speeds are underwhelming until the network catches up to the technology.

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