The implications of 5G networks: Paving the way for mobile innovation?

Juan Rendón Schneir*, Jason Whalley, Teodosio Pérez Amaral, Gérard Pogorel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

10 Citations (Scopus)


The telecommunications industry is on the cusp of adopting a new generation of mobile technologies. This fifth generation (5G) promises far-reaching changes, with the high-speed wireless broadband that it provides changing the way that individuals and businesses use telecommunication services. Through 5G the quality of telecommunication services will improve, with better signals being received inside buildings and latency and jitter significantly reducing so that new services can be developed. These new services are often associated with vertical sectors such as the automotive industry, healthcare, logistics and energy. It is these vertical sectors that are the heart of the socio-economic benefits that many believe 5G will create. Moreover, 5G is central to the Internet of Things, where the massive amounts of data generated will facilitate productivity improvements as well as lead to entrepreneurial activity across the economy.

Given the widespread socio-economic benefits associated with 5G, it is not surprising that policymakers are also interested in its development. If policymakers can position a country or region so that it gains an early lead in 5G and/or key vertical sectors, then it may be able to thrive in the highly competitive global market that is expected to emerge. Of course, as 5G roll-out plans in the majority of countries are still being defined and services have not been launched, the challenges for policymakers are significant. The wrong decisions may be made, and the country or region does not prosper as much as it could have done if a different course of action had been taken. Moreover, the decisions taken by policymakers may result in digital divides emerging.

The impact of 5G is far-reaching. It will impact on the telecommunications industry, not only in terms of how 5G services are rolled-out but also in terms of who provides services to customers. The emergence of 5G-enabled vertical sectors could fundamentally change telecommunication markets, forcing telecommunication companies in less lucrative roles than was previously the case. The innovative activity associated with vertical sectors may benefit many, but unless 5G networks are everywhere some will inevitable not benefit to the same extent. 5G, therefore, raises a number of issues that require further thought. The articles of this special issue, which were solicited through an open call for papers and peer reviewed, begin to address the complexity and dynamism of 5G and the wide-ranging socio-economic impact that its adoption and roll-out will have.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-586
Number of pages4
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Issue number8
Early online date10 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


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