By: Larry Bellehumeur
Date: Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.

You know a problem in the world of technology is bad when even your most non-tech savvy friends are talking about it. I am, of course, talking about all of the news about the shortage of various chips. These are used in just about everything IoT, from cars to appliances to toasters.


Companies like General Motors and Stellantis (the former Fiat-Chrysler) have announced shutdowns of their production lines due to a lack of critical components. More recently, news has revealed that many landline modems are now seeing lead times stretch over a year for vital components. While the carriers seem to have plenty of inventory now, it looks like a significant issue as 2021 progresses.


I have written before about how 5G will change the way that offices communicate. While some offices have cut the cord using a 4G connection, most need both a faster connection speed and a lower monthly data rate. Both of those items will change with 5G; offices will see speeds that match (or likely exceed) their current landline offering, and I expect to see some attractive data rate plans to come forward.


So, will the combination of 5G’s attractive offer, combined with a lack of ability for landline providers to deploy new lines (or upgrade existing ones), speed up the 5G rollout of routers?


I would have to say yes, with a couple of caveats. The first is the initial launch date of 5G routers. 5G smartphones have been on the market for a while but are the first to any new technology. 


The smartphone market is enormous, and they get the good stuff first. It looks like we will start seeing 5G routers launched later this year, but if this gets pushed, it will hurt the chances of 5G stealing away landline business in 2021.


The 2nd has to do with the first but in a different way. Let’s assume that hardware and IoT manufacturers are ready to bring out 5G routers in the later part of 2021 to grab some early market share. If some of the components they need to get things built are unavailable due to shortages, this won’t help them damage the landline’s market share.


Either way, 5G fixed routers will likely steal away a significant amount of landline business when they come out. If they can come out when landline routers are not available, it will help build some tremendous early momentum.