5G is everywhere… or at least talk of it is. At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress Shanghai, we were overwhelmed by the number of companies talking big about their 5G initiatives. We were, however, also struck by the lack of actual real world implementation. But unlike blockchain, 5G is definitely not vaporware and its showcase at MWC Shanghai is a bellwether for things to come.

I was initially taken by this topic because of the amount of hype and uninformed discussion taking place. Skeptical at first, after doing some research (the product of which can be found below), my opinion of 5G has changed to be a bit more optimistic. Indeed, this is the kind of future-thinking that keeps me engaged with the technology industry.

Bottom line: Everyone’s talking about 5G but there’s still a lack of understanding of what it is, and can do, among the general public. While many carriers in the US have already rolled the new networking standard out on a limited basis, we expect major Chinese cities to see substantial coverage during 2020. 5G, like AI, is a critical infrastructure technology that promises better productivity, city management, and connectivity for the consumer mobile internet. 5G is even more fundamental than AI: every other emerging technology will need its speed and ubiquity to be effective. However, like most technology, 5G is value neutral: that is, it’s up to people to decide how to use it and, in China, how it’s going to be used won’t match Western Enlightenment values.

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John Artman

John Artman is the Editor in Chief for TechNode, the leading English information source for news and insight into China’s tech and startups, and co-host of the China Tech Talk podcast, a regular discussion...