The upcoming rollout of 5G networks will have wide-ranging implications for individuals, companies, developers and everyone in between. We take a closer look at what 5G might mean for you, and when you can expect to start feeling the benefits.
What is 5G?
Put simply, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, and perhaps the most revolutionary yet. Each successive network has added new functionality, as well as speed.
From the first generation back in the1980s, restricted to analogue voice calls, we’ve come all the way to 4G and the handheld reality of mobile internet, gaming and video streaming it has delivered.
The auction for a chunk of the very high frequency spectrum has already taken place, and we can expect rollout of 5G sometime in late 2019. But with the UK’s mobile phone companies jockeying for position and bandwidth, chances are 5G might arrive slightly earlier, albeit with comprehensive coverage not yet in place. Realistically – and taking a sneak peek at government strategy documents – 2020 is the best bet for consumers. However, that means developers will want to be ahead of the curve to have product developed, tested and ready for the market.
What will 5G do?
5G is still being trialled, but there are some bold claims circulating about what we can expect. Every generational leap brings with it a boost in speed, but there’s a very real chance 5G will be lightning quick. It may well mean that, for the very first time, the smartphone in your pocket (or, more likely, your hand) can deliver network speeds as swift as those you get from home broadband.
What does this mean in reality? You can wave goodbye to annoying buffering when loading 4K video, a new game, a busy web page or multiple apps. These speeds are currently theoretical, and still in testing, but results have shown some speeds up to 100 times in excess of those that 4G can achieve. It doesn’t stop there – with greater connectivity capacity, 5G networks won’t creak under the weight of simultaneously running applications and users, as current networks often do. This has ramifications for the Internet of Things, driverless cars, virtual reality and more besides.
Are smartphones ready for 5G?
They’re not yet, but you won’t have to wait long. In fact, it’s likely you’ll get your hands on 5G-ready smartphones before the coverage needed to service those devices exists.
Qualcomm has announced the first 5G chipset – one that offers download speeds up to a maximum of 5gb per second – and many of the big players in the mobile market have confirmed they’re already using it to develop brand new devices for consumers. As is usually the case, such tech gets refined and there may be even bolder claims about dizzying speeds set to come before 5G is a daily reality.
The 5G rollout is just around the corner, heralding the next phase in the mobile digital revolution. It’s a game-changer for which companies are already planning, with new benchmarks in speed and connectivity set to make apps and smart tech increasingly important. The upshot? Brands will position themselves to enhance their offering and their reputation in a mobile world that literally will be always on and packed with opportunities. Follow the 5G story as it develops here on our blog.