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What’s Next In Wireless

From 5G to unbounded connectivity, a leading Verizon retailer looks ahead.

There are more than 400 million mobile devices in service in the U.S. — 1.2 devices for every American — with more being activated online and in-store each day.

According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, the average smartphone user in the U.S. consumes 8.6GBs of data on average every month. With the promise of the fifth generation (5G) of wireless services on the horizon, providers and consumers can expect this number to skyrocket nearly 500 percent by 2022.

The prospect of 5G smartphones coupled with consumers being increasingly digitally empowered begs the question, what exactly can be expected from the wireless industry in this new year?

Will We (Finally) See Mobile 5G?

When 4G broke onto the scene in 2010, it completely changed the way people connected with each other personally and professionally. Even with this massive upgrade, it still took months, even years, for the changes to trickle down to the average consumer. There was a lot of buzz around the emergence of 5G this year, but we didn’t see much progress toward scaling the delivery of this mobile technology to consumers.

With download speeds 30 to 50 times higher than what’s currently available, 5G is sure to reinvent how we connect to each other completely — again. Top providers are battling to roll out 5G in select cities, and companies like Verizon and Samsung are promising 5G smartphones within months. Could 2019 finally be the year we get nationwide 5G? I think so!

Related: Seven Mobile Companies That Dominated The Bandwidth

Connectivity Is King

We’re now seeing that any device can be created with the ability to access the Internet, and the rise of the 5G network will enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to be implemented on an even greater scale in 2019. The use of these data-only devices, like home assistants, wearables, smart TVs and connected cars, has increased 31 percent since 2016 and will continue to grow, likely doubling by 2020.

Researchers believe an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected by the year 2020, and with the continued emergence of new technology, consumers will prove them right. But this doesn’t come easy; more connected devices also means a greater need for multi-accessible edge computing.

Related: 5G Transition Will Create ‘Massive’ IoT

Enhancing The Customer Experience

Today, anyone with a smartphone is empowered to share their brand experiences with the world. With social media providing customers a platform for voicing their opinions, brand experiences — positive or negative — can now publicly be amplified faster and more easily than ever. One bad customer experience can launch a trickle effect that can leave your brand damaged, sometimes irreparably.

There are now nearly 100 mobile providers nationwide, and 98 percent of Americans have access to at least three of them. On top of that, there are hundreds of handsets available to consumers on multiple types of operating systems, with access to millions of apps and more. Brand loyalty is no longer enough to keep shoppers returning to their favorite stores.

Wireless retailers need to step it up when providing a beginning-to-end experience by focusing on the customer experience. This long-term focus could mean working towards shorter wait times in the stores and an improved online experience, as well as placing a larger focus on purpose-driven brands this year.

See: Rethinking Experiential Retail

In an industry that changes with the debut of each new technology or device, 2019 will be a stepping stone, with the consumer tech industry focusing on providing a faster, more-connected, and overall better experience for consumers.