I confess. I am a prolific mobile phone user and an excellent network connection is vital. I use it for work, checking my teenager has done his homework and social media stalking my friends. I was therefore thrilled to see London mayor Boris Johnson on the news back in 2014 saying 5G was not only coming to the EU but the UK would have coverage by 2020. Yippee I thought!
But hang on…. Isn’t there a number between 3 and 5? What happened to the prestigious 4G rollout? Why do I rarely see 4G on my phone and why is this taking so long? So many questions.
There are many mobile operators competing for customers and connectivity. They all promise “faster downloads”, “no more buffering” and “better global coverage” but what is going on behind the scenes that maybe we are not all aware of.
Conferences such as the Mobile World Congress bring together telecommunications companies, app developers, designers, standards bodies and many more to launch the latest and brightest gadgets and prototypes. It was little surprise therefore that 5G was a big BIG focus at this year’s event. According to speakers, some clever bods at the European Commission are currently squirrelled away, devising a much needed action plan for 5G deployment within Europe. Their coordinated strategy should be up and running at the end of 2016 and mean Boris’s prediction of UK coverage by 2020 may actually happen. Building on this discussion was last week’s 5G World, held in London,where Nokia demonstrated a “5G” network running on commercial platforms for the first time.
Back in the real world, 4G is what it is. It is there for some, maybe on its way for others, but if you live outside the big cities? Forget it. We all had such high hopes…..
Interestingly, Fifth Generation (to give it its full name) has projected speeds of up to 100 times more than we are currently used to. In some tests, these have reached a monstrous 1Tbps which, compared to an average current speed of 300Mbps, seems almost unfathomable. In real terms, imagine pressing play on a video on your phone and instead of getting the “circle of doom” you got the actual video; instantly.
5G does have some pretty hefty objectives though. This is the network that will be supporting connectivity of our up-and-coming smart cities, ensuring auto piloted cars and buses stay on the road and building better connectivity in space.
Full 5G is a few years away so we will have to make do with 4G for now (sigh) but oh, the possibilities 5G will bring. It will not only improve the telecom industry but vertical sectors such as car and public transport manufacturing, healthcare, renewable energy and all importantly – the media.
History changing moment: Thanks to 5G, the word buffer might go back to its original meaning:
“An elderly man who is considered to be foolishly old-fashioned, unworldly, or incompetent: a distinguished old buffer”