At last the UK has a 5G network. After much hype and what seemed like an endless wait EE has launched the country’s first 5G service yesterday. But what does it all mean to us, especially here in Lincolnshire?
Well let’s start with why the 5G network was launched and why the successful operators bidding for the license paid almost £1.5 billion for the privilege.
The new 5G network will allow EE and the other operators when they follow suit in the next few weeks to connect more devices to their network and of course generate more revenue by doing so.
Over 16 times as many devices, that’s around a million per 0.4 square miles, can connect to 5G compared with 60,000 on the current 4G network. That’s quite an incentive for the mobile operators to get the licenses and build the networks for subscribers to use.
In time Ofcom (the industry ombudsman) suggest that 5G could deliver data speeds of up to 20 Gbps. That is very, very fast!
To put that into some context 4G delivers around 30 Mbps on average to the end user.
Streaming is easily possible at those speeds but downloading content can still be quite slow. Using 5G it will take less time to download a movie than it does to read the title description! Good news for the gamers in your family too, 5G is estimated to 60 to 120 times faster than average 4G latencies, so no more painful lag during crucial FIFA games!
But hang on before you run out the door and buy your first 5G device and package, there are some more things you need to know about 5G. First of all, it’s expensive at around £54 for 10GB of data. When Vodafone come to market in early July competition should drive the prices down a little.
The second thing to know is that you won’t be getting those kinds of speeds for a while yet. If you’re lucky up to 1 Gbps is all you’ll get on 5G right now but that’s still a big improvement on 4G.
There’s a lot of network upgrades to do before we’ll be able to get the 20 Gbps speeds. The other big thing for us yellow bellies to consider is that 5G only went live in 6 big cities yesterday, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff are the lucky ones with 10 more UK cities to follow this year and guess what… Lincoln isn’t one of them!
As with the 4G launch, we’ll have to wait patiently for our 5G coverage, but I guess the upside to that is the prices will have dropped by then.
Sound good? There are still some worries over more masts being erected around the UK and there are ongoing debates about the possible adverse health effects of this new super high frequency network. There’s also some paranoia about using Huawei equipment to build the UK’s 5G network after the ongoing battle to ban the Chinese manufacturers products in the US.
The one thing I am certain of though is that the demand for faster speeds and easier access to more services anywhere and anytime is never going to be satisfied. Business and the consumer market will always want more, even if the service they have does the job adequately.
I’m already taking bets on when the first rumblings about 6G will start happening!
Paul Reames is the Managing Director of Bluecube Telecommunications.