Many waiting for the next quantum leap in technology are looking to 5G. This faster, more reliable wireless technology will greatly change all corners of the tech landscape. It could also lead to advances not yet imagined.
As a result, older tech and telecom companies will likely see most of the initial benefits. However, finding the best 5G stocks entails both understanding the technology and imagining where it can go in the future.
What Is 5G?
First, we must answer the question of what 5G is. Put simply, 5G encompasses the next generation of wireless technology. Estimates of speed improvements vary. Most estimates today indicate that it can reach peak speeds of 20GB per second — twenty times 4G LTE’s peak speed of 1GB per second. Keep in mind, this consists of peak speed under ideal conditions. More than likely, one can expect 5G to operate at 100 MB per second, versus the current 10 MB per second of the existing 4G LTE network.
The nature of service delivery will change. The current 4G technology sends signals in multiple directions. 5G signals will come from lower and closer panels that point in only one direction. This will allow for the use of 1,000 more devices per meter than 4G. It will also address the crowding problem that the mass adoption of smartphones has caused.
We do not yet know the full extent of what it will offer. However, we can expect that the current wireless applications will take place at increased speeds. As a result, the current Wi-Fi connections, which most of us depend on, would likely become obsolete. Also, latency, the time a data packet takes to get from one place to another, will almost disappear.
Numerous Equipment Companies Embrace 5G
The changes mean that traditional equipment companies will become 5G stocks. Of course, smartphones will become the most obvious technology to benefit. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has released its Snapdragon 855 5G smartphone chip. Hence, we should expect to see 5G phones beginning this year. This could bolster 5G stocks such as Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) and Motorola (NYSE:MSI). The same could also apply to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). However, if the past serves as an indication, Apple will probably wait until 2020 to release a compatible iPhone.
Investors should not forget equipment infrastructure. Firms such as Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) have provided equipment for network build-outs. Some unexpected companies have also innovated in this area. For example, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) just released plans for a technology code-named “Snow Ridge“. Snow Ridge is a wireless base station that can prioritize speed for applications such as remote surgery or self-driving cars, reducing latency where stakeholders can least afford it.
Equipment providers often build the applications themselves. Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia are among firms researching a technology called C-V2X. This allows self-driving cars to see possible obstacles not seen by radar and cameras.
Also, the Internet of Things (IoT) industry should benefit. Analysts expect this will develop more slowly. However, once these objects connect to 5G, it should expand the scope of interaction. It should also add capability in remote areas, where the reach of wireless and power issues becomes more of a concern. Numerous 5G stocks such as Intel, Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS) and Sierra Wireless (NASDAQ:SWIR) also invest heavily into IoT.
Service Providers, Startups Could See the Most Benefit
Still, despite the focus on hardware, the service providers probably serve as the more critical 5G stocks. Sprint (NYSE:S) appears poised to become part of T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS). As a result, this leaves T-Mobile, AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) as a “wireless Big Three.”
Each company has invested tens of billions of dollars on cross-country build-outs. The sheer cost and scope of a build-out make additional market entrants unlikely. This also places these telecom companies in their most powerful position since the days of the telco monopolies. As a result, this wireless big three should become the most stable 5G stocks.
Moreover, risk-tolerant investors wanting massive profit potential may end up finding the best stocks. As mentioned before, 5G will make new applications possible. Companies both old and new will bring these inventions to market. Some of these companies have not become well-known, others probably do not exist yet. While finding such stocks early will become difficult, they hold the highest potential for investor profits in this area.
Investors who can understand what 5G is and where it can go will likely see the most benefit from 5G stocks. The public knows 5G encompasses the next generation of wireless technology. Much faster speeds and near-zero latency will define this wireless technology. However, it will probably take years for business and society to understand its full implications.
The expense of testing and implementing these applications means that older tech firms will see most of the initial benefits. However, with the potential for new firms to emerge, investors should remain vigilant about finding new, emerging 5G stocks. By better understanding this technology, investors can not only enjoy the benefits of fast wireless speeds, but they could also upload quicker and more massive profits through 5G stocks.
As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.