What 5G means is different for mobile operators, consumers and enterprises. For mobile operators, 5G means lower costs per bit, a new way to create virtual private networks that can be differentiated, ways to create roles in internet of things and edge computing.
Latency performance, which always improves at least 10 times over the preceding mobile platform, also is an upside. Device density also is an order of magnitude greater for 5G, compared to 4G. Power consumption is lower and the ability to virtualize is higher.
All that means new revenue opportunities, potential new roles in the value chain and operating cost advantages.
That is not what 5G is expected to mean for consumers. For most consumers 5G will simply mean faster speeds, at first, Eventually, lower latency performance will lead to more-convenient use of artificial or augmented reality.
In some markets, use of 5G will be a feature of upgrades to unlimited usage plans.
For enterprises, there are some new possibilities as well. Device density and ultra-low latency, coupled with edge computing, makes any number of new sensor use cases possible. Private networks supporting dense sensor networks for factory automation and other use cases will be possible, especially those use cases requiring ultra-low latency performance and real-time or nearly real-time analysis of data.
Application providers eventually–when they can count on near-universal availability–will be able to craft features that take advantage of near-zero latency and ultra-high bandwidth. But that will take time. In fact, mass deployment might not happen for a decade.