5G offers network speeds many times faster than those with existing 4G connections. That ability will transform the way people use their phones and facilitate new ways of using networks, not to mention ease the increasing pressure on existing 3G and 4G networks.
But despite this superfast network now being up and running, there are a host of limitations on whether businesses and individuals will actually be able to use it in the near-term.
Will my phone be able to use it?
In short, if it's not a brand new phone that has 5G in the name when you bought it, then probably not.
A variety of companies are offering 5G-enabled phones, including those from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, HTC and Oppo. All of them – apart from the LG V50 Thinq – include "5G" in their model name.
The only one that you can actually buy and take home today however is the OnePlus 7 Pro. The rest are available for pre-order only. Notably, Apple doesn’t have a 5G phone yet, but rumours suggest that an 5G iPhone should be coming in the next couple of years.
For businesses that want to offer 5G WiFi connectivity without having to buy the entire office new 5G phones, EE will be offering two devices that sit separate from your phone, and generate a WiFi connection so you can attach the two together.
There is a home router version, and one that works more like a hot spot for using on the go. Neither of them are available yet, but you can register your interest on the EE website. And you will need to pay the extra cost for one of EE's 5G plans to get them to work.
Will it work where I am?
EE has switched on the 5G network in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester. That doesn't mean it will be available everywhere in those places, but it should be available in some. Vodafone is offering it in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London, with the promise to deliver it to Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton before the end of the year.
That said, even if you are in a 5G enabled area with a 5G phone, 5G travels less easily than slower networks, so it might sometimes be difficult to connect even if you feel like you are somewhere that should have it.
4G works great, does 5G even matter?
The world is going mobile and we are consuming more data every year, particularly as the popularity of video and music streaming increases. Existing spectrum bands are becoming congested, leading to breakdowns in service, particularly when lots of people in the same area are trying to access online mobile services at the same time. 5G is much better at handling thousands of devices simultaneously, from mobiles to equipment sensors, video cameras to smart street lights. 5G is not going to be a nice-to-have, but rather a must-have, in order for UK networks to be able to service the increasing number of devices and bandwidth-eating applications in the years to come.
Will it mean the end of fixed line services?
In a word, no. Telecoms companies have invested too much in fibre and copper wire fixed line broadband to give those up anytime soon. Domestic and office broadband services will be primarily fixed line for many years to come, although so-called fixed wireless access will be made available in tandem. However good wireless connectivity becomes, most businesses will need the stability and certainty of physical wires.
Think of 5G mobile as a complementary service for when out and about, interacting with the world around us. It will also facilitate the much-heralded "internet of things".
Not sure what the best connectivity option is for your business?
Many of our connectivity customers came to us from other suppliers who simply offered them a connection. No real thought went into what their organisation needs to function optimally, now or in the future. Networks are an art as much as a science, and it is often the service provider, not the IT company that is best placed to set up a network that truly meets the needs of a growing, modern business.
VTSL offers free network and connectivity audits. One of our engineers will come to your office, assess what you have in place, and provide a detailed recommendation. Networks are not just the responsibility of the ‘IT guy’ anymore, or your telecoms company. Networks and fast connectivity are at the heart business operations, efficiency and productivity. Downtime, poor connections and slow service cost money. And it all can be avoided with the right service provider. Call VTSL today on 020 7078 3200 and ask to speak to Sales, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VTSL are leaders in unified communications technology, providing organisations across the UK and Ireland with the solutions they need to work smarter. From integrated telephony-CRM systems, to video and conferencing, to enabling flexible working through mobile phones that work just like the office phone, VTSL is committed to helping companies use technology to get ahead. Find out more about VTSL's award-winning VoIP business telephony system, network solutions and software integrations by emailing email@example.com or giving us a call.