What is 5G?

5G is the next step in the evolution of mobile technology and mobile enterprise. It is the fifth generation of mobile networks which comes after the current 4G rollout.

We don't yet know how 5G will work or how fast it will be. But developed countries around the world are looking at their digital policies and the availability of spectrum to make mobile communications even faster and in real time. It's estimated that 5G could be up to 1,000 times faster than 4G, and with data speeds potentially exceeding 10Gbps. It goes without saying that this would also make it far, far faster than even the highest speed home broadband connections of today.

To give you an idea of how fast we are talking, you would be able to download an entire 1GB film in under a second.

5G will probably mean that users will be able to access mobile networks and the data they carry absolutely anywhere. This may require more infrastructure, but it could be almost invisible. As Professor Andy Sutton, EE’s principal network architect recently said

“Imagine a scenario where you are putting up a new building and there are a number of bricks in that building. Why don’t we replace a number of those bricks with things that look like bricks, but are actually mobile transmitters? Communications infrastructure can also be integrated into lamp posts.”

When will 5G arrive?

The first 5G networks are likely to be deployed in 2020, though given how theoretical everything is right now it’s possible that it will be later than that.

Either way, the UK may not be the first place to get 5G, but it should not be far behind. London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced plans to bring a 5G mobile network to London by 2020.

And that’s not all. Huawei has been heavily investing in research into the technology and much of that investment has been centred on Europe. EE is a member of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey.

So we might be one of the first countries to get 5G. In January 2015 UK telecoms regulator Ofcom called on industry to help lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

The spectrum, which is above 6 GHz, could support a variety of uses, ranging from financial trading and entertainment to gaming and holographic projections, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, like city centres.

5G mobile is expected to be capable of delivering extremely fast data speeds - perhaps 10 to 50 Gbit/s - compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbit/s.

5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve the fastest speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies. Therefore, higher frequency bands, above 6 GHz, for example, will be important.

What is 5G?