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Investment in 5G technology should take a back seat to nationwide mobile connectivity

Investment in 5G technology should take a back seat to nationwide mobile connectivity

James Papier


The fifth generation of mobile technology, 5G, will of course, enable us to receive data and information even quicker than our current handsets can. Sounds lovely, but how feasible is this next-gen plan in the next few years with so many of us struggling to access 3G connectivity, let alone 4G, anywhere and everywhere?

In his Autumn Statement, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, revealed that £1bn would be set aside for bolstering the UK’s digital infrastructure by 2020-21, including £740m for the roll out of full fibre connections and for future 5G communications, in cities across the UK. This is despite the urgent requirement for 3G and 4G to become available nationwide, not only in larger urban areas.

Britain’s aim is to seemingly pioneer 5G technology, to compete with the communications infrastructure already in place in countries such as South Korea, who have successfully established 4G nationwide. As the one of the global leaders, in terms of speed and coverage, its population is covered by 4G 95% of the time.

In the UK, the BT/EE partnership, the largest operator in terms of market share, has announced that its 4G coverage will extend to 95% of the UK by 2020, despite regulator Ofcom recently barring BT from bidding on another batch of 3G and 4G spectrum.

This is the immediate direction that should be taken in order to ensure the ever-growing need for instantaneous access to everything and anything through a phone, everywhere and anywhere, is met.

It’s all about supply and demand; the growing number of handsets in South Korea, Singapore and China means that any connectivity blackspots are quickly filled, enabling superfast and reliable 3G and 4G coverage.

Planning for 5G will only help to confirm the Government’s desire for Britain to be a hub of technological innovation. However, those plans should be reined in slightly, instead allowing 3G and 4G to reach its full potential before the end of the decade.

With no current compatible handsets currently available on the horizon to test the coverage, has 5G arrived too soon?