With so much hype around 5G, and its plans for commercial release in late 2019 growing ever closer, we thought we would round-up the latest updates here in the UK.
5G, short for fifth generation mobile network, is a faster, more widely accessible mobile network upgrade fom its 4G predecessor that we all use today. With download speeds estimated to be as high as 10-20 Gigabits per second, the 5G network in the UK will further increase cellular reliability and availability, surpassing current fixed line infrastructures.
Cloud-based and IoT applications will immensely benefit from 5G by allowing for more rapid transmission of data between devices, enabling applications that require real-time connections, and providing a reliable platform for advanced applications such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and autonomous vehicles and drones.
5G in the UK: Key Updates
• In early November, EE announced that London, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh would be the first UK cities to trial the 5G network in mid-2019, with other mobile networks such as O2, Vodafone and Three running 5G trails in other selected UK cities by the end of 2019. (Trail dates for UK cities still to be confirmed).
• More rural locations such as the Shetland Islands and the Outer Hebrides may also benefit from 5G testing. Faroese Telecom is considering the launch of their 5G network in these more remote locations to improve both mobile and broadband services. (Dates still to be confirmed).
• The UK’s Channel Islands will also be benefiting from 5G connectivity testing in 2019, as Jersey Telecom and ZTE have agreed to roll-out the trails, predicting that 10% of the island population may be using 5G enabled devices by 2023. (Trail launch date subject to the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities licensing spectrum).
• Partners O2 and Nokia have begun carrying out two 5G MIMO (Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) trials across two locations in central London which specifically experience high levels of data usage. Supported by 2.3GHz of spectrum acquired by O2, and MIMO technology to boost the network capacity and performance, the pilot is expected to increase coverage in the areas and lay the foundations for the companies to move towards their final launch of 5G.
• 5G is predicted to offer commercial and residential premises a much cheaper alternative to fibre connections. A recent report by Ovum Ltd suggests that 85% of the UK’s 26 million fixed line market could be switched to the new 5G wireless service, as it will be quicker to deploy and should improve customer experience.
For many, the launch of the 5G network in the UK can’t come soon enough. This cost effective and wide-reaching cellular service will better connect people, places and devices – enabling both businesses and consumers to do more, more quickly and more effectively.