5G – What does it mean for mobile networks?

At the end of last month, the UK launched its first mobile network for 5G with EE, bringing faster speeds along with lower latency and higher capacities for 5G capable devices when they release.

Although it’s only been made available in a limited number of cities right now, over the coming months EE plans to expand its network. Competitors are close behind with their launches, with Vodafone, O2, and Three all planning for 2019 launches in cities across the UK. The roll-out for 5G will be slow at first, only areas with high population will be getting it, with widespread deployment possibly not coming until 2022 at least.


What is 5G?

There have been several generations of mobile networks, and 5G is the fifth (and most advanced) one to be released. The networks currently in use by the majority of the UK are 4G and the older 3G, which do offer reliable speeds and connection, but with the release of 5G the older networks simply won’t compare when it comes to speed and reliability.

Compared to past generations of mobile networks, 5G will most likely not be defined as a single form of technology. This is because it usually is referred to as “the network of networks”, as it will connect existing standards with future ones (this includes current advanced 4G networks).


What benefits will it provide over existing networks?

As stated previously, 5G will offer faster speeds, more reliable connections, lower latency, and greater capacity than existing networks. Specifically, these are the improvements expected to be gained from 5G:

Speed – It is expected to reach speeds over 1Gb/s in the early years, but as time goes on experts believe it will potentially reach speeds of 10Gb/s – 100 times faster than standard 4G! Of course, as with any mobile network speeds will depend on a number of factors but these expected speeds are fantastic when compared to previous generations.

Latency – Current 4G networks (and all previous generations) experience delays between data being sent and responses being received. 3G experiences around 65ms of delay, whilst 4G experiences around 40ms. 5G will theoretically have a latency of around 1-4ms depending on services being used. This near-instantaneous connection speed will have potential applications for dozens of technologies currently being developed, such as driverless cars and robotics.

Capacity – It will be able to access higher frequencies (a spectrum between 30Ghz-300Ghz) which means that networks will be able to cope with many more high demand applications at the same time. By having a larger capacity, it could possibly even deliver an experience similar to a fibre connection, which would be a huge benefit for many people, especially businesses/customers in areas traditional fixed lines cannot reach. Currently, a 4G connection will depend on how many other devices are connected in the immediate area, but with 5G’s greater capacity it will be able to scale data usage according to individual user’s data needs.

Is it only available in the UK?

It has actually already been made available in several countries around the world; at the end of 2018 US mobile network AT&T launched their 5G service in 12 cities, and Verizon launched theirs in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. The downside to these launches though is that limited devices are available on these networks. In South Korea some mobile operators also have limited 5G coverage on offer. By the end of 2019 the majority of brand new 5G phones will have released, so right now the focus is on getting 5G ready to launch in the rest of the UK, which will take some time.


What can it do for your business?

Because of the connectivity capabilities of using 5G as a service, businesses will be able to work remotely more efficiently, with work being completed faster and more easily than before. A technique that will be introduced is Network Slicing; this allows for a physical network to have virtual networks within itself, meaning that companies could set up their own private networks running on 5G.

With its introduction, there’s also the possibility of entirely new products and industries being created that simply aren’t possible with current 4G technologies. Qualcomm has estimated that up to 22 million jobs could be created, and by 2035 roughly £9.3 trillion worth of goods and services could be produced.

If you are interested in 5G phones and want to know more, you can get in contact with our experts who can help you out with any questions.