HTC has come up with a new twist on the boring wireless connectivity hotspot for when 5G networks go live this year.

Smartphone vendor introduced the HTC 5G Hub, a 5G mobile smart hub that streams 4K video via a 5-inch HD touchscreen and supports low-latency gaming and 5G mobile hotspot features for up to 20 users.

It is a new twist on the traditional wireless hotspot device, which is typically a hockey puck-shaped object that simply connects Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Depending on the price point, which has yet to be revealed, the 5G Hub can provide early use cases for 5G networks. Carriers around the world have just begun to deploy 5G networks, with a number of commercial deployments expected in 2019. While these networks are expected to deliver mobile data speeds much faster than today’s wireless networks, real use cases that show the value of faster data speeds that end-users will want to pay for are largely missing.

Sprint, Telstra, Three Deutsche Telekom, Sunrise and Elisa

Sprint in the US, Australia’s Telstra, Three UK, Deutsche Telekom, Sunrise in Switzerland and Elisa in Finland are initial carriers that will offer the 5G Hub. HTC notes that in the future, users will be able to stream virtual reality content from the cloud to a VIVE Focus headset (also offered by HTC) via the 5G Hub without the need for a PC or cables. The device runs on Android and is capable of downloading apps.

Through an agreement with Hatch Entertainment, Sprint plans to pre-install Hatch’s cloud gaming service on the device as well as on smartphones. The service offers unlimited on-demand access to a menu of more than 100 premium mobile games. The device itself includes a rechargeable battery, making it portable, which opens up possibilities for a fixed broadband replacement in the home or office.

Hotspots are likely to be the first devices deployed on 5G networks for form factor, battery life, and certification reasons. When used with multimedia devices like PCs, hotspots are more likely than handsets to provide real-world benefits of 5G to early adopters.

Carriers should not underestimate the usefulness in marketing their capabilities early on and there is an opportunity for hardware suppliers like HTC to innovate with hotpot devices.

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