(Photo via AFP/ Pau Barrena)

While many in Argentina may be still on 3G-max pay-as-you-go phones, those out in Barcelona are living in 2020 at the Mobile World Congress, with the first look at phones with 5G. 100,000 people have ooh-ed and ah-ed through the exposition with eyes toward the future. 6,000 CEOs and representatives from 180 governments have gathered to continue discussing policy and iron out the advances for the years to come.

Telefónica Chief Technical Officer Enrique Blanco claimed that some of these 5G phones could be on the market in a year or so, and further stated that their price would be around US $200-300 more than what we already pay for our bright-shiny new phones. He assured that the new phones that will come out will continue to support 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.

Blanco says that the price increase for these phones will be necessary to adapt to rolling out the new technology. According to technology reports, it will be ten times faster than the current 4G system. The 5G wireless network will have the ability to enable “smart city” technologies like intelligent technological systems for transit, as well as self-driving cars, and a more integrated platform for virtual reality.

A man tries the Saudi Telecom virtual reality glasses on a 5G connected car at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's biggest mobile fair, on February 26, 2018 in Barcelona. The Mobile World Congress is held in Barcelona from February 26 to March (Photo via AFP PHOTO/ LUIS GENE)
A man tries the Saudi Telecom virtual reality glasses on a 5G connected car at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s biggest mobile fair, on February 26, 2018 in Barcelona. The Mobile World Congress is held in Barcelona from February 26 to March (Photo via AFP PHOTO/ LUIS GENE)

 

Telefónica also launched Aura, its own foray into the artificial intelligence assistant world, competing with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri among other robotic friends. Aura will be released in Telefónica’s Latin American market, yes, Argentina included, as soon as this weekend.

The technological advances show what is ultimately projected as a stark contrast in the future of the world, as the future is bright… if you can afford it. It will cost US $300 billion to create the 5G network to cover the United States. Developed countries have the financial capabilities to access these new opportunities, which leads to further financial success and growth, but it can leave developing nations in the dust.

In case you were wondering why your Instagram feed doesn’t load fast enough at brunch, there might be a reason: according to a recent OpenSignal report, Argentina is in the bottom 10 in the world. Of Latin America’s 4G countries, Argentina ranks slower than Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. However, since Movistar—a subsidiary of Telefónica—opened up a 4G network in the country in 2014, Argentina has made recent strides to create broader access to 4G, even with a second (yep, second) 4G site on Antarctica. In terms of actual accessibility, Argentina ranks higher on both Latin American and global reports, with 73.5 percent LTE availability.

But there’s good news for us tech-nerds out there: Both Argentina Telecom and Telefónica announced earlier this month that they would invest further in the country, with Telecom’s contribution of US $5 billion and Telefónica’s US $2.251 million between 2018-2020.

Since fast is the operative word in terms of this network, let’s hope this extends to its arrival in Argentina too.