5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks has been around for a few years already. At the end of last year, 2021, 79 nations have either commercialised 5G or are conducting 5G trials. The UK, however, is one of the most developed markets in Europe in terms of 5G rollout, but what does this mean exactly? This blog will further explore the state of 5G in the UK, how it’s changing the likes of data usage and how this brings new opportunities to businesses across the UK, before looking at 5G comparisons across the globe.
Currently, in the UK, the four main mobile operators have already launched 5G, EE was the first to do so, launching its 5G services back in May 2019. Currently, EE’s 5G network is available in over 160 towns and cities, Vodafone 127, O2 194 and Three over 100. Smaller MVNOs such as Voxi and Giffgaff have recently started offering 5G plans, although the location of availability is dependent on the host MNO. Speed tests carried out in 2020 found that the UK’s 5G speeds were nearly four times faster than 4G. However, due to the limited availability of spectrum, it was not quite as advanced as Ofcom, the UK regulator had set out. Therefore, in 2021, Ofcom held a 5G spectrum auction, with frequencies available leading to an 18% increase in the region’s mobile capacity. With the expansion of the 5G spectrum, mobile broadband has improved and boosted 5G deployment, and with it, 5G speeds. If you’re still unsure on how fast 5G is, 5G offers access to theoretical speeds of 100 Gigabits a second, it takes 300 to 400 milliseconds to blink, so if you blink, you will miss it! As technology progresses this year there will be a greater demand from businesses and consumers to migrate to 5G capable hardware such as smartphone and routers.
The fast adoption rate, speed, and low latency of 5G is driving data usage. In 2020 alone, UK 5G users consumed 2.5x more mobile data than 4G users driven by video, gaming, and higher resolutions all on mobile. In an age of increasingly advanced smartphones, businesses and consumers will only continue to increase the amount of data they consume on mobile devices. 5G users are becoming more prone to using their data connections for tethering, as connections are often multiple-times faster and more reliable than fixed-line broadband. With 5G holding such a high device capacity, it becomes a great option for business; it is estimated that 5G deployments can support 1,000,000 connected devices per 0.38 square miles (243 acres), in comparison, 4G can only support 2,000.
With 5G, business networks can undertake simultaneous data transfers, flexible working and allow feasible remote working, especially in current COVID times. The lower latency offered by 5G can improve the functionality and security of devices by its ability to boost encryption and by reaching real-time access, meaning complex tasks will be performed quicker with fewer interruptions. With the PSTN Switch off in 2025 looming, businesses need to remain competitive and ambitious by equipping IoT and 5G devices promptly. In terms of the economic benefits, O2 state that the UK could benefit from time and productivity savings of £6 billion per annum, suggesting that the investment of 5G devices is indeed worthwhile. Such a surge in mobile data usage on the new spectrum presents a new opportunity for operators to monetise the billions of pounds being invested into 5G, securing assets from the uncongested spectrum. Construction and Agriculture industries could see benefits almost 10x higher than the costs associated with 5G upgrades, through increased efficiency, improved safety, compliance, and enhanced devices. For example, field conditions can be more accurately monitored through an improved network of 5G data-collecting sensors.
As 5G is still new to the world of business in the UK, most networks providers are keen to grow their 5G mobile data networks and are happy to provide companies with the network support they need, as well as a comprehensive range of solutions for their business customers. With the deployment of 5G also comes the need for 5G education, teams cannot make the most out of the new technology and perceived benefits. 5G education will help businesses understand how the network’s benefits can support business goals and drive growth; it will become an essential skill for a thriving and successful business.
The UK’s 5G deployment is a close contender behind the US, accounting for a 57% share of 5G connections, however, America is seeing a slower rollout across the country. This year is expected to see two-thirds of the country’s population covered with a 5G service. The slower rollout in the US is said to be down to; the availability of space in the spectrum, the deployment of new network equipment that isn’t manufactured in the US, meaning purchases take longer, and the lack of apps driving the usage of 5G. Although most large mobile operators in the US, such as AT&T and Verizon are offering 5G, the location of availability is limited to urban areas and main traffic routes but is expanding across the country. European countries are expanding their 5G service at a completely different pace due to these areas being densely populated, in Germany alone Vodafone’s 5G network reached 30 million people at the end of 2021. Europe has quickly gotten onboard with 5G deployment compared to the US; however, they cannot simply be compared in terms of their share of 5G connections due to the different sized populations and rollout of cellular network towers across the countries.
It is clear to see that 5G’s rollout across the globe is not in one constant development but fragmented by country because of sizing and population density. The UK’s 5G deployment is developing constantly and becoming a more viable option for consumers and businesses across the country. With constant advancements in technology and the PSTN Switch Off looming, 5G mobile data and IoT devices are becoming the future of communication.
As an award-winning partner of the three leading UK networks (Vodafone, O2 & EE), Cellhire provides unbiased advice and a large choice of connectivity options to really maximise success. Cellhire helps grow and create new revenue opportunities for channel partners.
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