Trend to Watch: Enterprise 5G

Overview The transition from 4G to 5G wireless was one of the hottest topics at CES® 2020, with manufacturers announcing new 5G products and service providers presenting their network rollout plans across the country.

While 5G smartphones are front and center of most conversations, the opportunities for this next generation of wireless technology expand far beyond phones.

At CES 2020, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® Vice President of Market Research Steve Koenig labeled 5G as one of the top trends to watch.

5G-enabled smartphones are just beginning to enter the consumer market, with 20 million shipping in 2020. Koenig explained that handset uptake won’t be immediate, as it will take some time for network providers to update towers and upgrade equipment to fully deploy service nationwide. But by 2023, more than three-quarters of smartphone shipments will have 5G.

Even though a lot of news is currently focused on consumer deployments, Koenig said that “as these networks propagate, we unlock more potential for the enterprise.” 

Koenig continued, “5G will overlay the entire economy [with] applications across every conceivable commercial and industrial sector.”

Enterprise 5G will be primarily characterized in two ways: massive Internet of Things (IoT) and critical IoT.


Massive IoT

Massive IoT refers to the fact that there will be many network endpoints that will contribute small amounts of data each. Think on/off sensors for lights in a building or temperature readings from individual machines in a factory.

The benefit of 5G technology is that it can easily handle simultaneous transfers in high capacity.


Critical IoT

Critical IoT refers to the capability of 5G services to handle important operations reliably and consistently. This includes services such as remote health care, smart grid automation, traffic safety and control, and industrial application and control.

With a nod to CES exhibitor John Deere, Koenig gave a compelling explanation for how 5G systems can help the agriculture industry: A farmer equipped with connected harvesters, soil moisture sensors, connected silos, farming robots and drones can more efficiently tend to his crops and maximize the market potential of his harvest.

Intelligent farming is just one of the many applications of 5G we heard at the show. Koenig pointed out that this is just the beginning, and we’re sure to hear about more developments in the decade to come.


To hear more about 5G and other major CES trends, catch Steve Koenig’s full “CES Trends to Watch” presentation.

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