The 5G band is the next generation of broadband connection being rolled out by wireless mobile carriers globally. It will replace the existing standard, 4G LTE. While carriers upgrade existing network equipment to 5G, it will live alongside your 4G mobile wireless service but will evolve over time to become a stand-alone network. At its full maturity, we will eventually see wireless network speeds at or above 10 Gbps. Given that 4G currently gives us around 100 Mbps, 5G running at 10 Gbps is simply incredible. It’s no surprise some are calling 5G “wireless fiber” as it provides fast low-latency Internet wherever you are. Lower latency means faster and more reliable downloading, media streaming, voice and video chat and more. Putting this into context, essentially this means you could download a 4K, two-hour movie in under five seconds.
It could also be used for home Internet connections. You could have a 5G wireless router in your home that gives connected devices access to “gigabit fiber-like” speeds. You will be able to have all devices in your home on at once and not have to worry about slow speed or a diminished experience. The whole family can watch their favorite movies and TV in 4K UHD, play online games, and do work office work while streaming their favourite music in the background; all without interruption.
It’s not just meant to benefit Netflix streaming and iChat conversations on your smartphone. The 5G connections will be able to handle more devices at once, which is important to accommodate the growing number or internet connected devices released every year. It promises a fast and reliable always-on wireless signal for smart devices – including your Alexa devices, smart thermostat, fridge along with connected cities and cars. It will also allow emerging tech like telemedicine, VR and fully enable self-driving vehicles to reach their full potential.
Check out THIS promotional video from T-Mobile – it is American targetted but shows some of the telcos ideas how it’s 5G coverage would work and create in effect, a “smart city” for its users.
So Where are we in the UK with a 5G rollout?
In 2018, EE announced the first UK 5G test. This 5G network is set to be rolled out across many major UK cities later this year.
In November of 2018, EE – which is now part of the BT Group – switched on it’s first and only 5G sites in East London. After paying £300m for the rights to use the new 5G spectrum, they began trialing in London, building the first phase of the UK’s 5G network.
The initial phase of the 2019 5G rollout spans across 6 UK cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester. These have been selected by EE as the areas with the largest ‘footfall’ that would directly benefit from 5G.
EE also say that the launch of their 5G network will “Cover the busiest parts of cities, including London’s Hyde Park, Manchester Airport, Edinburgh Waverley train station, Belfast City Airport, The Welsh Assembly and Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.”
A further 10 cities will benefit from the rollout of 5G later in 2019.
As is true with all new technology, you’ll want to wait a while before buying into the 5G hype. Advice is to wait until things go mainstream on both the 5G network and mobile devices. When it comes to wireless technology, there are a lot of variables to consider. Distances between transmitters, physical obstructions and dead spots. There will be few devices that offer true 5G connectivity in 2019 and they will be expensive first-gen devices. You should only have one if you are an early adopter and in a location that has the legit 5G infrastructure.
Expect to be hearing a lot more about 5G and devices that take advantage of the technology at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February. We’ll keep our eyes on that and continue to bring you more coverage on 5G and what it means for you as the technology evolves.