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It hasn’t taken long for the Internet to evolve from a luxury to a necessity. In 1995, just 1% of the world’s population were using the Internet. Fast forward to 2018 and approx. 40% of people on earth now have an Internet connection.
The Internet is going ‘Mobile first’.
More people now use the Internet from mobile devices than desktop Computers. This fact seems incredible when you consider that Smartphones have only been mainstream for just over a decade (the original iPhone was launched in 2007), yet Telecommunications Companies have been providing us with Internet access from as far back as 1994.
The continuous evolution of Mobile Internet.
Wireless cellular technology has continued to evolve at an exceptional rate. 4G digital connectivity is light years ahead of the original 1G analog networks that were used back in the 1980s.
Indeed, the difference in speed between the last two generations is seismic, with 4G providing faster download speeds to cater for activities such as video streaming and gaming. This excellent article on 4g.co.uk contains a mobile network speed chart that compares the last two generations in detail.
There is no halting progress.
4G has been around since 2012. It has served us well, but with the growing demand placed on mobile Bandwidth by Apps, high-quality streaming and mobile gaming, the time has come for 4G to be superseded by a new generation of Wireless Mobile Technology. That technology is 5G.
What is 5G?
5G is a Fifth-Generation mobile network that is the natural successor to 4G (or LTE). 5G promises data download and upload speeds that are between 10-20 times faster than the current generation 4G mobile Internet connectivity.
Theoretically, 5G download speeds could reach up to 10Gbps (possibly higher), although it’s likely that real-world download speeds won’t be as fast as this at launch (depending on what articles you read). It is worth noting 5G is still in the testing stage and no-one has confirmed any real-world download speeds yet.
The video below from Nokia (published by the BBC website) provides a small taster of what we can expect in terms of performance from 5G Networks when they eventually go live.
To put the speed into context.
According to this excellent article by Sarah Wray on 5g.co.uk, you will be able to download a full HD movie in less than 10 seconds on a 5G network. The same movie would typically take up to 10 minutes to download on a 4G network.
It’s not just about speed.
5G is also about capacity. When the technology is fully rolled out, users can expect to get a stronger, more resilient signal in built up areas. Hopefully, the days of me struggling to check the half time scores at West Ham will be a thing of the past!
When is 5G coming to the UK?
EE has already confirmed that 5G will be live in six major cities in the UK by mid-2019, with another 10 UK cities expecting to get EE 5G Networks by the end of 2019. Other Mobile Network operators are already trialling 5G with a view to going live next year.
Realistically, we will probably have to wait until 2022 for 5G to be fully rolled out across the UK.
Could 5G replace your home broadband connection?
In a recent article on the BBC website, Three UK’s Chief Executive David Dyson said, “Maybe not for the whole country, but certainly a significant majority of the country, I strongly believe 5G can offer a good enough home broadband experience for people to effectively ditch their copper [or fibre] connection.” He also added “The challenge in terms of why we can’t do that today is that the mobile networks don’t have the capacity with 3G or 4G. 5G changes all of that.”
Will I need a new phone for 5G?
The short answer is Yes. But fear not, the first 5G compatible Smartphones are due to launch in 2019. These smartphones include Samsung’s Galaxy S10, the Huawei Mate 30, the Honor 5G phone and the OnePlus 7 (incidentally, EE has just been announced as launch operator for OnePlus).