EE have just launched the first ever 5G mobile network in the United Kingdom via Stormzy, live; on a boat on the River Thames. The 5G network offers never-before seen speeds which will enable customers to download music, pictures and videos much quicker than ever before – but is it really all it seems on the surface? Can anyone even access it yet?
Speeds of around 1Gbps are extremely enticing and with the service being available in limited areas of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester; phone network rivals of EE are already lining up to say that they are hot on their heels with their network upgrades. But the limited availability of the network could see a very slow take up with people moving onto the faster 5G network. The barriers to entry (apart from living or working with the aforementioned geographical locations) also include the fact that a very small number of existing mobile phones are able to access the network meaning you will need a new phone, a new contract and a new tariff with your phone provider.
Interestingly, some carriers in the US have managed to encourage people to buy new phones and offer them the service without actually offering the service. As silly as this sounds, they have promoted their offering as 4.5G – not quite the 5G service that networks have been upgraded to but it basically means that: If you can connect to a 5G service within the small number of places that it is available in the States – great, you can use it. Other than that, your phone may display a 5G indicator without actually delivering a 5G network service. Thankfully, we do not have this in the UK so if your (new) phone on a 5G tariff happens to display a 5G symbol; you are definitely going to be receiving those Facebook notifications over the lightning speed network.
In case you were desperate to tap into this new 5G network but didn’t want to shell out for a new phone or contract; you can always buy one of the devices that EE are offering in order to bridge the gap between your phone and the new network. The mini-routers that EE are offering sit separate from your phone and connect to the 5G network. This then acts as a hotspot that you can connect your phone to via WiFi and take advantage of the fast speeds. This is only really a solution for people who don’t mind the impracticalities of an extra contract tariff (for the router) as well as carrying two devices around. It’s likely best to wait until 5G becomes much more accessible.
But what benefits does this have?
People are speculating that with the 5G network, downloads and file sharing will be almost instant and this will likely change the way in which people use devices thanks to the ultra fast network of sharing information. Meetings could be changed… snapchats have never been delivered faster. But with 5G actually harder to connect to than it’s predecessor 4G, it’s still yet to be seen if this really is going to be groundbreaking enough to force a societal change.
Moving into the future, 5G communications could absolutely see businesses take massive advantage of the change in network technology to improve their efficiency and speed up the time spent waiting for things to connect, send or stream. With internet speeds consistently an issue for small businesses, the future of 5G could see large files being shared almost instantly which would hugely improve productivity. We have all been there where we are sat waiting for files to download, web pages to open or video calls to connect; all of that time could be a thing of the past if 5G becomes readily adopted into businesses in the coming years.
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