It’s been a long time coming but 5G – fifth generation mobile networks – may be about to arrive in the UK.
Earlier this year mobile network EE trialled its superfast 5G network on the biggest scale – live at the BAFTA Awards – as it unveiled the “world’s first” AI stylist.
Digital supermodel Shudu was brought to life at the event via holographic technology to capture the outfits of A-list guests and share shots with fans through a chatbot. With this came the news that 5G will begin to roll out across the UK by mid-late 2019.
First generation networks were introduced in the 1980s, but carried voice only; an early wireless cellular technology largely reserved for business use. 2G brought about mobile for the masses, with users able to send information via SMS, while 3G provided an upgrade in the form of smartphones and mobile broadband.
Fast-forward to 4G – networks designed to support sustained data bandwidth – and this now provides the basis for the continuing growth of the app-economy. Speed matters; 4G has the ability to accommodate high-speed activities such as video streaming, video calls and gaming without the need for a wi-fi connection.
The effect of the introduction of 5G is the subject of much speculation, however one of the more obvious benefits will be much faster internet connectivity.
Users will have access to wider coverage and more stable connections. Ian Fogg from OpenSignal, a mobile data analytics company, argued that: “Whatever we do now with our smartphones we’ll be able to do faster and better”. Video calls should become clearer, and wearable fitness devices could monitor health in real-time – alerting doctors as soon as any emergency arises.
Gamers should notice shorter delays and fewer lag effects improving the gaming experience without the need for wi-fi connection – meaning gaming on-the-go could become ever more popular.
In a media environment enhanced by 5G, there will be more opportunity than ever for super-fast load speeds. Extra-fast wireless connectivity and improved quality of video will mean that the demand for video will likely increase.
This will also likely mean higher-than-ever expectations for site load times and video play speed; brands will need to ensure that websites are optimised for mobile performance and for ecommerce sites that the customer journey is quick and painless.
With speedier tech also comes richer augmented reality experiences, all via mobile devices, meaning there will be further opportunity for personalisation in real-time.
Ultimately, companies such as Uber, Instagram and Spotify had only just launched at the introduction of 4G – so we can only contemplate what new technologies or services will come about via the future of 5G.
It may take a few years for everyone to be connected, but what we do know is that tech continues to drive change. And change is coming.