5G - What it is and how it works

5G (fifth generation), put simply, is the latest iteration of the standards and rules which dictate how mobile phones should work. Many people believe that every time a new network standard is issued it relates simply to mobile speed and network coverage. Whilst to some extent this is true, there are an enormous number of factors which are considered when upgrading a mobile network, even down to which radio frequency to use and how the mobile masts should communicate with individual devices.

To the average consumer though, 5G offers a considerably more robust and reliable offering when it is fully rolled out by the networks. In a world where streaming and downloading is the norm, this is where the gulf between 4G and 5G becomes apparent. On a 4G network, a fairly standard download speed is 20Mbps, which by way of example would download a full HD movie in around 30 minutes. 5G, however, is suggested to offer 500 to 1500 Mbps. Capacity such as this would download the same movie in around 25 seconds. To download and view documents would be nigh on instantaneous.

In terms of network coverage, this is however a separate issue. When connected to a 5G mast, this mast would have around 100 times the capacity of its predecessor, meaning that your calls and connections are considerably less likely to drop or lose quality. However, coverage still remains an issue of proximity of masts to the consumer, and to the networks it is an issue of cost and a business decision. They will have to weigh up whether the income gained from servicing this type of network is commensurate with the costs of upgrading and expanding their mast network. The obvious answer is that it ought to be, and 5G doesn’t just service mobile phones. The IOT (Internet Of Things) is expanding at such a rate that now TVs, refrigerators, central heating systems, home hubs and even doorbells are attached to a network.

It can’t be doubted that this massive surge in digital devices and ‘must have technology’ has driven the demand for the 5G network rollout. Once established, the new network capabilities will be massive and the services available via network operators and MVNOs will increase at an incredible rate.

EE have announced that they will launch the first 5G services in May in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast and will add 10 more cities throughout the year. O2 will launch in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, also in 2019. Vodafone’s launch will be the largest however, starting in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Stoke and Wolverhampton from the off.

5G isn’t quite here yet, but it’s never too early to begin speaking with your clients and give advice and recommendations. Building and reinforcing a solid relationship now means that you will be in a brilliant place to advise your clients accordingly when 5G arrives.

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