Telecommunications companies are already looking to move from 5G to the next stage of mobile development, called 5.5G or 5G Advanced, CNBC reports.

While the global rollout of 5G networks is ongoing, and in some countries, like Ukraine, has not even begun, industry leaders gathered at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona have already turned their attention to the next phase of modernization. Next-generation technology promises to support more advanced devices, including mixed reality headsets and innovations in autonomous vehicles and smart manufacturing, much of which was promised before the launch of 5G but never materialized.

At the same time, although 5G provides significantly higher data transfer speeds and lower latency compared to 4G, the standard has not yet reached mass saturation. By 2029, 5G connectivity is projected to cover more than half of mobile connections, and the industry expects 5.5G to expand commercial use, solve deployment challenges, and bridge the gap with 6G. This evolution aims to improve network performance, introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning for smarter networks, and increase energy efficiency.

The transition to 5.5G, which is expected to be commercially deployed in 2024, is seen as an important step for telecom operators to monetize their 5G investments more effectively, particularly through enterprise-oriented services. However, it remains a challenge to convince consumers of the benefits, as for many of them the improvements from the transition from 4G to 5G have been subtle. The industry is now focused on ensuring that 5.5G can deliver on its promise and meet the rapidly growing data needs projected for the coming years.