The world may get its first “hands-on” glimpse at 5G technology at a conference in Hawaii today, just weeks ahead of a planned launch of the first 5G networks in the U.S.
That’s because chipmaking giant Qualcomm is kicking off its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui on Tuesday. It’s generally an event to show off Qualcomm’s latest chipmaking advances, but this year’s Summit is particularly focused on 5G technology.
While 5G is largely thought to become a catalyst for the next revolution in computing and technology, the details and timeline of the next-generation tech have been fairly vague.
That may change today. At the summit, there will reportedly be live 5G networks (deployed by AT&T and Verizon), a portable 5G mobile hotspot, and one or two 5G-enabled devices available for testing, The Verge reported.
Qualcomm has become a 5G vanguard in recent years and the San Diego-based chipmaker is expected to reveal a new Snapdragon processor that could eventually end up in the first consumer-facing, 5G-enabled smartphones.
As mentioned earlier, 5G is expected to be revolutionary. It will boast significantly reduced latency and upgraded speeds over the standard cellular networks available today — some estimates point toward speeds 10 or even 100 times faster.
That boost in performance has lead many people to believe that 5G will supercharge development of technology like the Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, self-driving vehicles, and other advanced systems. The wireless technology will even be faster than the speediest wired connections you can get today.
As far as when you’ll get 5G compatibility on your phone, you’ll probably to wait until next year at the very earliest. While AT&T is planning on launching a 5G network in 12 markets this year, other carriers — like Verizon — have slated launch dates for 2019.
Of course, wider availability will probably take quite a bit longer to roll out (particularly in rural areas with spotty existing coverage). So don’t expect to be on the blazing-fast network by next summer or anything.
On a similar note, you’ll also need a compatible device to use 5G networks. The first 5G-enabled Android smartphones are expected to hit the market in the first half of next year. That will probably include a Samsung-built 5G smartphone expected to be debuted at this week’s event.
That’s just for Android, however. Apple isn’t reportedly planning on releasing a 5G smartphone until 2020 at the earliest.
Apple has historically adopted new wireless technologies slower than its Android counterparts. The ongoing legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple is likely another factor contributing to the delay, since Intel’s chip won’t be available until late 2019.
Still, 5G is coming. And while you won’t be using it tomorrow, consumers will probably start seeing the benefits of the technology sooner than later.