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5G on the Menu at Davos

5G is the focus of technology talk this week at The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Politicians and industry leaders have largely spoken in glowing -- but very broad -- terms about how advanced the next-gen communications technology is during this year's winter conference for the uber-rich and powerful.

CEOs from Verizon and Ericsson, though, have offered a few nuggets of 5G fact alongside the high-level techno pablum.

Verizon inching toward 5G ROI Verizon's CEO Hans Vestberg says the operator will start to actually see revenue from its 5G investments in 2021 and 2022. "We have said that we will see some impact on our revenues in 2021 from the mobility case," Vestberg said in a CNBC interview, noting that the operator has 120 million mobile customers using Verizon's 4G and early 5G networks.

Despite the expectation of initial revenues from 5G in 2021, Vestberg notes that widespread use of 5G phones will take years. "The expectation from external sources is that [by] 2024, half of [the] US population will have bought a 5G phone," Vestberg said.

Ericsson downplays perception of a 5G race Ericsson's CEO claimed at Davos that the operator wasn't trailing Huawei in the 5G race, citing that Ericsson equipment has been installed in multiple 5G networks, including the earliest launches. "I find it's a bit difficult to say we're behind, when I see no one ahead of us," Ericsson's Börje Ekholm told CNBC.

Ekholm also told US President Donald Trump, during a dinner with global CEOs, that it is important for the US to "quickly" open up the C-Band, as access to that midband spectrum is "critical" for the US if it's to lead in "the development of 5G." The FCC presently expects to hold a C-Band Auction at the end of 2020.

"We're in very good shape," Trump declared to the collected gaggle of CEOs regarding US progress on 5G. "I think we're far advanced, much further than people understand. We got off to a very late start before I got here. But once I got here, we've really caught up."

AT&T launched one of the first commercial 5G networks using the 3GPP standard on Dec. 21, 2018. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all now offer commercial 5G services covering multiple US cities as the industry heads further into 2020.



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