We have heard much over the past years about 5G and how it will change everything, but the growing consensus – especially at MWC ’19 – is that no one knows exactly what this change will look like.

Depending on who you talk to, this is the fault of the carriers, mobile device manufacturers or app developers, but the truth is this is probably everyone’s responsibility.

One thins is for sure, though. 5G is here, and outside the conceptual, no one seems to be especially sure just why.

We caught up with TCL’s Sam Skontos at MWC ’19 for a chat about all things 5G, foldable and more. Sam showed us the 5G areas that Alcatel is working in, including an almost ready mobile data terminal and an Alcatel-branded 5G handset dubbed Alcatel 7 which should come to market sometime next year.

In Sam’s opinion, 5G – as it’s pitched currently – is aimed squarely at the premium end of the market, and he’s concerned that the average person is going to be left behind by 5G, at least in the short term. This isn’t quite so much a function of premium pricing by the carriers, as much as it is a function of the high cost of 5G handsets.

This, unsurprisingly, is something that TCL’s Alcatel brand wants to change. Sam told us that Alcatel is working not only on 5G handsets now, but also on more affordable options to come over the next 12 to 18 months aimed for the outright (and, potentially prepaid) market.

With a mobile market fairly evenly balanced between prepaid and post, Sam estimates that 5G could easily miss half the market or more just because of the cost of handsets. This, in the short term, is unavoidable due to the limited vendors of 5G modems and the delays in securing stock due to competition.

This pressure should ease over time, you’d expect, and lead to a reducing cost of smartphones. As the competition heats up amongst the carriers, too, we should see a lower cost of entry into the next wave of mobile tech.

Hopefully by then the carriers, manufacturers and developers will have a better idea of what 5G will solve for us.

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I’m not sure that is any different to the transition to 4G? Leading edge technology is only ever available to those able/prepared to pay for it.