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These Are The 5G Trends To Watch In 2021

Gina Narcisi

From securing a software-based network, to the impact on the edge and IoT, here are five 5G trends that solution providers should keep an eye on in 2021.

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‘5G On The Rise

The fifth-generation of mobile networking technology, or 5G, has been top of mind for the telecom industry in recent years and the buzz has trickled into almost every other market as businesses look for ways to manage change through new connectivity options.

5G promises data rates of 10 to 100 times faster when compared to 4G and LTE speeds of today. This means that not only will the cellular technology help improve the performance of use cases today, but it will also power brand-new and emerging applications, too.

5G networks all over the world are being built out, and while early chatter was largely centered on how the technology will help consumers, businesses are starting to see how 5G will be able to be tapped to facilitate and enhance their applications. But first, 5G has to be more widely available, a promise that many of the country’s biggest telecoms are vowing to make a reality in 2021. In fact, by 2025, there is expected to be 320 million 5G subscribers in the U.S., according to telecom giant Ericsson.

Here are some of the most important 5G trends that solution providers should be aware of this year as the latest cellular technology becomes a viable connectivity option.

Next-Generation Network Buildout Continues  

The next-generation cellular technology can deliver data rates of 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G networks, and even despite a global pandemic that impacted many businesses, the largest wireless carriers on the globe spent 2020 growing their 5G footprints and building out their respective networks.

In the U.S., Dallas-based AT&T’s network now covers about 16 percent of the U.S. Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband network is now live in 31 states. Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile, which took on Sprint’s 5G footprint after its acquisition closed last year, says it has 5G live in parts of all 50 states as of the close of 2020. Consumers and business users will most likely have to purchase new mobile devices, however, as many existing devices are not designed for the latest protocol.

5G’s Impact On IoT 

5G is going to help further IoT because of the latency and bandwidth improvements it can offer. The IoT opportunities that will especially benefit from mobile and cellular connectivity include transportation, manufacturing, farming, and smart cities use cases. And 5G could even make new and emerging use cases and applications a true reality for the first time, such as connected cars, which require lightning-fast, low-latency technologies.

Aside from the cutting-edge use cases, many industries right now need highly reliable low-latency wireless links that can power applications as quickly as possible for their existing IoT use cases.

Connected Communities  

Smart cities have become a major IoT trend in recent years as metro areas all around the world equip indoor and outdoor areas with sensors to collect data and gain insights to better manage their assets, resources and services.

5G is the technology that the smart city and connected communities use cases have been looking for. Existing 4G networks are limited in its support for simultaneous connections, high power consumption and high price per bit. 5G, on the other hand, is expected to drive smart city applications by addressing these issues and in return, harness the newly captured data to improve city operations.

5G And Security

As the amount of 5G implementations increase, the need for good security will become even more critical. Carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have been bolstering their next-generation networks with added encryption and additional defenses at the edge of the network.

But 5G, unlike previous iterations of cellular technology, will be made up of a mostly software-based network, so securing 5G is a different kind of endeavor. The applications that will ride on top of the 5G network, such as IoT and smart city apps, will also require additional layers of security to lock down the new devices and connections that will be joining the network.

5G At The Edge  

The link between 5G and edge computing is all about latency. 5G promises to fuel innovation at the edge by powering brand-new use case, enabling more data collection and faster processing than ever before, while giving businesses and organizations another connectivity option.

By combining 5G and edge computing, organizations will be able to outfit devices like smart cameras and sensors to collect more data, which will drive more compute use cases at the edge. This will result in expanding opportunities for solution providers in collecting data at the edge, channel partners told CRN.

According to research firm IDC, the worldwide edge computing market is forecast to reach approximately $250 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent over the next four years. 5G technology is expected to act as a catalyst for that market growth.


Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at

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