BlogInsightsWhere We Are With 5G

Where We Are With 5G

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5G, also known as the fifth generation, is a development of 3G and 4G communications technology. As technology evolves, new capabilities arise and consumers and businesses have access to new features, services and benefits. 5G technology seeks to provide further advances on 3G and 4G, providing cellular network users with faster connectivity and higher upload and download speeds. Just as we have progressed from 3G to 4G, we will eventually replace 4G with 5G. For now, 4G and 5G work together. 

For years, people have been talking about 5G and it is now starting to filter into the mainstream. The 5G rollout in the UK is underway, but it hasn’t been plain sailing. In this guide, we’ll analyse the rollout so far, provide information about 5G and highlight the potential pros and cons it offers. 

What are the advantages of 5G?

Faster, slicker browsing and shorter upload and download times

5G is an evolution of the technology we are already using, and it provides access to opportunities to enjoy a faster, better online experience via mobile data. Many of us will have been to events or places where there were huge crowds and struggled to send messages or access sites or apps due to the network being pushed to its limits. We are so used to being able to open pages or send photos in an instant that even a minor delay can cause frustration. The 5G rollout is designed to speed up networks, improve connectivity and increase capacity. 

Data from EE, the first network to introduce customers to 5G, suggests that average speeds now reach over 100Mbps. This means that it will take just a few minutes to download a film. With 4G, you will probably wait around 15 minutes for your download to complete. 

Lower latency also helps to create a slicker, more seamless experience, which is beneficial for smartphone users who enjoy gaming, online shopping and jumping from one page or app to another, as well as business owners. 

Improved reliability

There are few things that are more frustrating when you’re desperate to finish a task or open a website or app than getting stuck. In crowded areas and during busy periods, 4G networks can be overwhelmed, meaning that it’s difficult to open apps, load pages and display content properly. 5G will increase capacity and improve reliability, enabling more people to use and enjoy the features of mobile data wherever they are. 

Scope for development

The 5G rollout will unlock new opportunities in line with the development and growing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many IoT devices are limited by current network capabilities. 

Saves battery power

5G uses less power than 4G, which means that the battery in your device will last longer. 

Where is the 5G rollout up to?

If you’ve been to large cities or towns recently, you may have noticed that the 4G icon on your screen has morphed into 5G. The 5G rollout is underway, but this technology is not yet accessible to everyone in the UK. EE was the first network to make 5G available to customers in 2019, but the road has been scattered with potholes and speed bumps. Progress has not been as fast as hoped, but there are now signs of major development. In 2020 an Ofcom report suggested that around 30% of outdoor premises in the UK had 5G access. In 2021, this figure had risen to 50% (source). 

The government is eager to accelerate the rollout. In February 2022, ministers announced plans for eight pilot programmes to simplify local authority protocols to speed up the upgrade from 4G to 5G. Telecoms companies will also have better access to structures, including traffic lights, public buildings and street lights across 44 council areas to accelerate expansion. There is also a contract bidding process underway to improve access for harder to reach areas. 

Are there any negatives?

One of the main reasons people are talking about 5G is negative press. There have been stories about people targeting masts and calls for the rollout to be halted due to health concerns. These issues have attracted media attention and triggered debate amongst friends, families, work colleagues and business owners. Just as it’s helpful to highlight the potential benefits of the 5G rollout, it’s beneficial to consider potential drawbacks. 

Health concerns

One of the reasons some people are sceptical about 5G is concerns about the impact of this new technology on our health, most notably, an elevated risk of cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) classes all radiofrequency radiation, including mobile phones, as “possibly carcinogenic.” This is because the evidence is inconclusive. It is worth noting that talcum powder and pickled vegetables are in the same risk category. Red meat and alcohol are in a higher risk category. 5G masts also run at reduced power levels compared to 4G masts, which means that the antennae emit lower levels of radiation. 

Cost

The cost of living is rising, and questions have been asked about the need to spend huge sums of money on upgrading to 5G. Supporters of 5G claim that investing in new technology will improve accessibility, especially in rural and more remote areas, creating opportunities for individuals and businesses. 

Installation

The 5G rollout requires more transmitters, which poses logistical challenges, including finding suitable locations. 

Security

There are concerns about security linked to 5G. To minimise threats, network providers can enhance software protection and work with cybersecurity companies. Manufacturers and networks could also improve access to education for customers. 

Summary

The 5G rollout is well and truly underway in the UK, but there have been highs and lows so far. 5G technology offers incredible benefits for smartphone users, businesses and people who utilise IoT devices, but some people have concerns about the cost of the rollout and the implications of 5G for health and safety. It’s common for people to have questions about new technology and worries may start to subside once 5G becomes part and parcel of everyday life.



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SaneChoice started in 2004 when a customer was frustrated by their hosting provider at the time. Since that year, SaneChoice has been providing technology services to clients worldwide, with a strong focus on helping small businesses understand technology.


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