5G is set to arrive sooner than expected

So much of business is conducted on the move nowadays that the news that 5G is set to arrive sooner than expected is probably a bigger story than it would have been even a year ago. 

The 5G network will be extremely fast – enabling speeds of between 1 gigabits a second to 10 Gbps. Current 4G networks offer around 50 Mbps, which sounds quite fast but it’s not enough for the content being prepared now.

Higher-resolution video – 4K and then 8K – is already on the horizon, and then there’s augmented-reality, virtual-reality, mixed-reality, as well as absolutely-no-connection-with-reality technology to think of.

And it’s not just the computer games business that will benefit from 5G. More and more people are likely to use augmented reality to do furniture shopping – trying out the virtual product in their home before ordering the real thing.

An interesting and media-rich world is developing, and it will all depend on a reliable and fast network, with increasing numbers of people connected through mobile devices.

At a recent meeting of the 3GPP group – the body developing the technology standards for 5G – it was decided that the network would be rolled out a year ahead of previous estimates.

The original plan was to make 5G ready for 2020, but now the planners reckon they can have it up and running by 2019.

The planners call it a “major decision”, and details will be finalised by March next year.

The acceleration may have been caused by the intense interest in 5G shown at the Mobile World Congress, which took place at the end of last month.

Experts say 5G offers “huge opportunities” for many sectors, not least the burgeoning financial technology industry.

And governments are saying they will back 5G with some of their money, although it’s probably money they will more than recoup through licensing fees from companies which want to operate on the network.

The market is definitely ready for 5G. It’s inexplicable how the Internet can be so slow at times, even through landlines. And through mobile devices, simply surfing the net can be an infuriating experience – even on an advanced and expensive iPhone 4.

The GSMA – the international organisation which represents the interests of mobile network operators – predicts that 5G connections will reach 1.1 billion connections by 2025.

That’s probably an underestimate: 5G will probably surpass 1 billion connections in the first year of rollout.

But the GSMA bases its prediction on a survey of 750 CEOs of mobile network operator CEOs, so it might turn out to be accurate.

The report, entitled The 5G Era: Age of Boundless Connectivity and Intelligent Automation, also predicts that the newfangled network will offer the right environment for interesting new technologies to become more widely adopted.

Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, says: “The 5G era will usher in innovations that enable richer, smarter and more convenient living and working, making possible a huge array of new applications, everything from sensor-driven smart parking to holographic conference calls.

“5G is an opportunity to create an agile, purpose-built network tailored to the different needs of citizens and the economy. But it is vital that all stakeholders work together to ensure that 5G is successfully standardised, regulated and brought to market.”

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