3 Months of 5G in the UK

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It has been 3 months since the initial roll out of Fifth Generation network (5G). 5G provides internet that is not only 10 to 20 times faster than 4G but is also more reliable. 5G is revolutionary – not only because of its speed but the way it’s built and the opportunities that stretch beyond its predecessors; innovations in driverless cars, healthcare and interactive video can all be transformed as part of the Internet of Things with the adoption of the network. 5G also has lower latency, meaning internet pages are almost instantaneous.

Although the technology is very much in its infancy there are many more plans to expand – EE and Vodafone have taken the lead but O2 and Three are not far behind. As it stands, 5G is live in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Walsall and Wolverhampton but there are plans in place for all 4 providers to launch 5G in at least 35 UK towns and cities.

The shape of the roll out 

5G has been rolled out so far in a staggered manner with certain providers taking off in May 2019 with others due to engage in November. There is still a long way to go before 5G’s mainstream adoption but after a full roll out in 2020, 5G is estimated to have 1 billion customers by 2023. A fast and efficient roll out is vital for the UK economy.

In the technology obsessed world we live in, demand for being connected is higher than ever. 96% of adults use a mobile phone according to a report by Ofcom (2019) so making that connectivity as quick as possible is crucial for our fast-paced life.

Although 5G requires an initial investment, it is more efficient in terms of infrastructure – all 5G networks are launched with dual connectivity architecture where user equipment is connected to 2 base stations at the same time.

One of 5G’s key benefits is its potential to provide internet access to rural areas. The Government has confirmed it will consult on proposals to simplify planning processes in England to roll 5G out and get taller masts for people living in rural areas – Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan launched a £30 million UK-wide competition to spark a tech revolution in countryside communities.

5G, 6G and the future 

5G offers potential for a more interactive experience via access to 360 videos or viewer dictated experiences; for instance, when watching football, people may even be able to choose which camera they watch the live game from. Technology changes like this cannot happen overnight so there have been some issues rolling it out – but its success highlights the endless possibilities it provides; the potential combination with augmented reality as well as its greater capacity provide great scalability. When we’re all using VR goggles, 4G isn’t going to be efficient. 5G smartphones have started to be released by numerous providers such as Samsung and Huawei so the demand is clearly there.

It is likely to eventually become standard across the world the way that 4G replaced 3G several years ago. Therefore, those choosing to remain with 4G are likely to get left behind as the public start to demand it everywhere. The 5G era is just starting and even 6G is in the pipeline. Although 6G is very early in development, it is likely to appear in the next decade even if it is still being trialled. 6G might bring latency down even further and will only increase connectivity speed.

Progress still needs to be made by providers and the government to make the transformational leap to quick and efficient internet coverage across the country, as VR technology grows the demand for quicker connections will only increase. Commhoists’ involvement in the telecoms industry means we support the evolution of technology to the 5th generation and beyond.