3 Stocks Invested in a 5G Future
A new era of lightning-speed 5G mobile internet is almost upon us, with major companies investing massively in the break-out technology. But which 5G player stands to gain the most, and who will fall behind?
In recent years, 5G — or fifth-generation cellular network technology — has been touted as the future of mobile. The upgrades it promises in speed and connectivity may not seem particularly revolutionary, but a quick look at the recent past will show that better technology takes time to reveal its full potential. 4G smartphones were first unveiled around 2010, yet it took a few more years for apps such as Snapchat and Uber to appear on the scene, taking advantage of improved networks and technology.
Like its predecessor, 5G could be around in some form for a decade or more, which means the big players in this space are thinking long-term. The struggle to dominate the market might not seem as dramatic as the race for viable driverless cars or general AI, but it’s one that investors should be sure to keep an eye on.
South Korean firm Samsung Electronics (KRX: 005930) is perhaps the only company that began betting hard on 5G before 4G even came out, tasking its R&D department with investigating the technology’s implications as long ago as 2009. Junehee Lee — the company’s top tech executive — has spoken about the role Samsung’s 5G networks will play in everything from superfast streaming to smart cars.
As one of the rare companies that is already building its own 5G-ready devices, as well as complex network infrastructure, Samsung is well-positioned to take advantage of the roll-out of 5G. After all, it was Samsung’s own S10 5G device that became the first commercial 5G phone to be launched. Already an indisputable giant in 5G, Samsung is working on making sure that it will stay near the top for years to come.
The tech giant got a shock last week when a survey found that buyer interest in the latest line of iPhones is lower than 2018, even though the new range will be priced more affordably. Analysts suspect this is because consumers are waiting for a 5G version of the product, which Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has yet to release.
However, Apple has always utilized great marketing and sales strategies. In some ways, the company is taking the opposite approach to Samsung regarding 5G. With Samsung products already on the market, Apple is likely gauging consumer reaction before it releases its own 5G product. This is a company, after all, that prides itself not on being first, but on being best.
We come finally to the most controversial and unpredictable firm on the list. In May, Chinese telecom company Huawei was effectively blacklisted by President Donald Trump. However, being deprived of U.S. intellectual and technological resources hasn’t stopped the company from racing ahead of most competitors in the space. Indeed, last Thursday, CEO Ren Zhengfei revealed that Huawei is already developing 5G base stations that are entirely free of American components, with plans to double production in 2020.
Ren is so confident about the company’s progress that he told reporters Huawei might offer its 5G technology — including the likes of patents and production know-how — to Western companies for a one-time fee. All of the company’s exploits take place behind China’s smog curtain, and within the context of the Washington-Beijing trade war, but there’s no denying Huawei is a key player in the battle over 5G. Amid an atmosphere of political suspicion, the company stands to gain massively in the eyes of the world if it pushes the 5G boat forward.
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