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Why is 5G so important for UK business?

Since EE launched its 5G offering in May, competitors have been racing to get their networks live before the initial surge in interest starts to die down. Now that Vodafone has gone live and O2 has announced its launch in October, it seems the perfect time to take a closer look at the technology itself, each of the network providers’ services and how they are differentiating from each other.

Millimeter waves

The term millimeter waves generally refers to the portion of electromagnetic spectrum between 30 and 300 GHz, corresponding to wavelength of 10 to 1 mm. Thus, the millimeter wave spectrum lies between the microwaves and infrared portions.

What is 5G?

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between 4G and 5G, as for the time being at least, some would be more accurately described as Super 4G, rather than 5G.

With much of the underground infrastructure requiring new lines and antennae to bring the promised performance of ‘True 5G’, areas that offer 5G currently, and in to the early 2020s, will still be operating on the same frequencies as 4G. However, they’ll have much faster speeds and lower latency than traditional 4G. Just not the futuristic 10Gbps and 1 millisecond latency that 5G promises in the coming years.

Until the roll-out of ‘True 5G’, users will still be able to benefit from major bandwidth increases. On average they’ll be up to 10x the speeds of 4G, a reduction in latency and much better performance in crowded areas such as concerts, city centres and stadiums.

Benefits of 5G

Even this present jump in connectivity bandwidth will allow for the transfer of massive files, almost in an instant. For example, users will be able to download a HD film in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. For businesses, the ability to collaborate on documents and video conference will be much smoother thanks to the added speeds and reduced latency. No doubt it will influence the quandary many businesses are currently having around whether or not to move their file storage to the cloud.

True 5G is expected to launch in 2022, once the required infrastructure has been installed throughout the country with the utilisation of ‘millimetre waves’ in a certain part of the frequency spectrum. This allows for incredibly low latency and even faster speeds, (up to 100x times those of 4G) which will open up new use-cases across the board.

Immediate benefits

 

  • Superfast download speeds for streaming video and the transfer of files from remote or cloud storage
  • Better performance in crowded areas like trade conventions, arenas and concerts
  • Low latency for improved experience using collaboration tools like O365, Teams or Salesforce.com

Future benefits

 

  • Ultra-low latency (1ms) will allow for the real-time transfer of information and will open up a whole new range of use cases like remote surgery and driverless cars
  • Speeds up to 100x faster than 4G will mean that any information is available almost instantly
  • IoT, 5G and AI will combine to create smart cities that know when to turn streetlights on, when your bins need collecting and so much more

Which networks provide 5G?

As with the introduction of 4G, networks are launching at different times and in different locations, though many business hubs are being covered by multiple carriers. With Three, O2, Vodafone and EE all promoting their coverage plans, it won’t be long before most of the country has 5G available.

Early adopters will certainly have cause to upgrade, even now the speed and latency improvements are not to be sniffed at. As mentioned, not all networks have decided to launch in all the same areas though, therefore ensuring that your provider supplies 5G in your area is vital to getting the most out of the service. Most carriers are adding postcode checks on their websites to let you know if your site has 5G available. The reason for this staggered roll-out is to ensure carriers are covering the cities with the densest populations, where residents will be able to gain the most from the service. By the middle of 2020, we expect most major towns and cities to be covered by multiple carriers.

EE

 

A subsidiary of BT Group, EE was the first to launch its network with plans that include up to 50 GB data allowance. It offers three distinct tiers; Business, Business extra with swappable bolt-ons and Business select that includes added security services and double data.

Vodafone

 

The most recent to launch its 5G network and the only one so far to offer unlimited data for business customers. One interesting aspect to its network is the inclusion of a plug-in router called the ‘Vodafone Gigacube’. Designed to convert 5G into a Wi-Fi network, it can be added to a home or office network and automatically switches between 4G and 5G connections, depending on the most reliable signal in that given moment.

O2

 

Its 5G-ready phones are already available through its website, though the network isn’t being switched on until October and O2 has not announced its 5G specific tariffs as of yet.

Three

 

Whilst some may see Three as a latecomer to the 5G market, its network is already live in some parts of London and will be rolled out further afield ‘soon’. Three has made a big deal out of its larger portion of the 5G spectrum, compared to its competitors and will most likely be the first network to launch ‘True 5G’ in the UK sometime in the early 2020s.

Whilst some believe that 5G won’t really be beneficial until the launch of ‘True 5G’, there is still a lot of scope for businesses to improve their operations and gain a valuable step ahead of their competitors. 5G is coming and those that choose to adopt early will be ready to innovate and take advantage of ‘True 5G’ far earlier than those who wait. After all, 70% of executives (out of 1,800 across 12 countries) surveyed believe that if they adopt 5G, it will give them a competitive edge, according to an April 2019 Barclays Report.

Given that we work with all the major providers, we can offer impartial advice for small and medium sized businesses that wish to benefit from all that 5G can offer. Our service promise guarantees that we’re accurate and honest about the services available in your area, so you know we’re not just after a quick sale.

Our virtual communications team are also on hand for businesses that struggle to manage their own equipment or those who just don’t have the time in the day. If you’re interested in how 5G can help your business, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Let us fully understand the needs and wants of your business so that you can leap-frog the competition.

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