Wednesday 29 May 2019
As EE launches 5G this week in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and Birmingham, Nigel Linge, professor of telecommunications at the University of Salford asks what it means.
“This week EE will become the first UK mobile operator to switch on their 5G network. So, what does this mean for the average user?
“Well, 5G is simply the fifth generation of mobile service since the launch of those iconic analogue brick phones of the 1980s and will offer significantly higher speed and more consistent access to the Internet. It will allow the download of a HD movie in less than a minute, up to 1000 times faster than 4G.
“5G won’t just revolutionise handsets; it could also be an alternative way of providing broadband internet access to homes via fixed wireless access (FWA). It will make our cities ‘smarter’ reducing delay for enhanced mobile broadband applications, enabling virtual reality and connected and self-driving vehicles.
“Together, these should give a noticeable improvement in experience where 5G is available. However, this week’s launch is limited to six cities and even within those, coverage won’t be universal. So initially, 5G will be for the few, not the masses.
“But that will change as the networks expand, the other operators launch their 5G services and more handsets become available. Then in the next few years we’ll start to see the real potential of 5G being realised through better network coverage and capacity, enhanced mobile broadband access, support for the Internet of Things, and services tailored to specific classes of users achieved through a process known as network slicing.
"Those features in turn will enable the development of a new generation of apps and services."
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