What is 5G?
5G is predicted to be a hot trend of 2020 and throughout the next decade. 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will improve the current 4G network connectivity. This successor promises faster download and upload speeds, lower latency and the capability to connect to many more devices at one time. For 5G to be fully implemented, this requires upgrading existing cell towers and maybe even building brand new ones, as well as a renewal of mobile devices, as existing models contain 4G modems that convert a lower frequency than 5G requires. Therefore, 5G will not be fully available to customers right away despite some network providers already having launched 5G in South Korea, China, US, UK and Australia in 2019.
Global 5G patent trends
Using PatBase Analytics V2, we can identify the top companies exploring 5G technology through the number of patent applications they file, the top jurisdictions where 5G technology is being patented and how 5G technology has developed over time by looking at number of patents applied for and granted over the past two decades. This research is based on the search term:
(TAC=(5G) AND IPC=(H04))
The International Patent Classification (IPC) used here, H04, is the classification for “Electric Communication Technique”.
The graph below shows a count of the most recent decade of patent applications and grants that include 5G in the Title, Abstract or Claims (TAC) of the patent document and are classified with the IPC code H04. Until 2011, there were not many patents for 5G technology as broadband updates are cyclical. It changes every 10 years. There is an exponential increase in patent applications starting in 2014, and the count has peaked in 2017. The shaded parts of 2018-2019 signal that the data is incomplete. It takes up to 18 months for a patent application document to be published so it is unclear yet what the final number of applications and grants are for this period. What is clear, however, is that the number of granted patents is expected to continue increasing into 2020, as some of the thousands of applications from 2017-2019 will likely be granted.
The pie chart below shows the top 5 jurisdictions based on number of applications. The most applications are being filed in the US, followed by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), then China, South Korea and the EPO (European Patent Office). South Korea was the first country in the world to set up any 5G infrastructure. They also sit at the top of the list of countries in the world with the highest average internet speed and the highest average mobile internet speed. It is therefore no surprise that South Korea sits within the top 5 jurisdictions where patents for 5G are being applied for.
Furthermore, when looking at the at top 5 assignees by application of 5G patents, Samsung (a South Korean company), has filed more patent applications than the following 4 assignees, Qualcomm (US), Huawei (China), Intel (US) and AT&T (US), combined.
5G’s Predicted Impact on Other Industries
- Artificial Intelligence: Improved connectivity means it will become easier to collect data for training algorithms and improving AI systems. Not only can more data be collected on the go, tracking people’s habits, movements and preferences, all connected devices can send data at once and more complex requests can be processed remotely.
- Autonomous Vehicles: Delays in sensors and systems are a significant concern in autonomous vehicles at the moment. 5G would allow sensors on cars, roads and other connected devices to react quicker to changes. Self-driving cars can cause fatal accidents when there are seconds in delay for the system to process data, 5G can hopefully reduce this risk significantly.
- Smart Cities: Connected sensors and devices around cities can help collect useful data on traffic, security threats, environmental issues such as air quality or flooding, and help to solve problems remotely through automated systems, or at least reduce the time it takes to respond.
- Healthcare: 5G can radically change healthcare systems by enabling remote recovery methods, monitoring patients using connected devices, and even remote surgery! Minesoft’s Caitlin Kavanagh has written an insightful article expanding on this topic, focusing on the potential impact of Smart Homes and telemedicine on the healthcare industry. It is available to read here.
5G has the potential to highly impact the Internet of Things (IoT), the interconnection between smart devices that send and receive data in ways that are highly beneficial to society. Listed examples in this article, AI, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and healthcare, are just a few areas that could be revolutionised by faster connectivity, lower latency and more simultaneously connected devices.
5G is still in its infancy, illustrated by the starting rise of granted 5G patents, so it will be interesting to see how this technology develops in this new decade. For the moment, key players to watch are telecommunication and technology firms in South Korea, China and the United States.
PatBase Analysis V2, available for PatBase and PatBase Express users, was used to create the graphs in this article. The analytics tool is embedded in PatBase, the patent database developed by Minesoft and RWS. It simplifies the process of creating visual displays of patent information by integrating directly from the search results page on PatBase. With just a few clicks, thousands of detailed patent documents can be analysed to create graphs showing top classification codes used, jurisdiction overview or summarised legal status information.
For a free trial of PatBase with integrated PatBase Analytics V2, go to: https://minesoft.com/our-products/patent-search-tools/