The global smartphone market declined its fastest ever, down 13% YoY in Q1 2020 (counterpoint research)

The obvious disruption of supply chains as a result of the global pandemic has affected nearly every business worldwide, including the major players in the telecommunications industry. Additionally, the cancelling of events such as the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February has delayed business development. Both service providers and device manufacturers are feeling the impact.

For Apple, the disruption in the supply chain due to the global pandemic may have reduced iPhone shipments through Q1 by as much as 10% (Business Insider)

It seems like everyone everywhere is waiting to see what the rest of 2020 will hold. The numbers from Q1 don’t look good, but the telecom industry has something valuable that may just be able to counteract the negative effects of the pandemic: 5G. Its growth is inevitable, despite even a global pandemic. This we can surmise just by looking back at the advent of 4G.

The deployment of 4G took the number of active mobile broadband subscriptions from 3.3 billion just 5 years ago, to around 7.7 billion in 2020 (Businesswire)

Throughout 2019, we were inundated with optimistic expectations for 5G’s benefits to consumers, service providers, and device manufacturers.

Sales of 5G devices will account for 12% of mobile phone shipments in 2020, and 43% of device shipments in 2022 (Gartner)

It’s hard to say how much COVID-19 will change the outcomes of these predictions. It has certainly negatively affected sales for the beginning of 2020. Yet, amazingly, it also has added a paramount factor to 5G’s development in the resulting increased need for connectivity. In fact, the pandemic may actually accelerate the benefits of 5G for everyone.

According to Business Insider, “the growing need for remote interactions amid the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a need for 5G technology, potentially accelerating adoption in the long term.”

As with most aspects of these rapidly changing times, we will just have to wait and see. But one thing’s clear – the future is more exciting than ever for 5G.

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