Ofcom’s first 5G spectrum auction was completed in April 2018, with EE, O2, Vodafone and Three all winning some spectrum.
O2 acquired the most, winning all 40MHz of the 2.3GHz spectrum that was being auctioned (paying £205,896,000), as well as 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum (for which it paid £317,720,000).
Vodafone meanwhile won 50MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum, paying £378,240,000, EE paid £302,592,000 for 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum, and Three acquired the least, paying £151,296,000 for 20MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum.
So, what does all this mean to our business mobiles?
Well not a lot yet! It will take some years to roll out and given parts of the UK are still yet to get 3G its not going to be a quick process. Its is widely expected we will start to see 5G in the UK in 2020 but as with 4G I sure it will roll out through major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham first.
On paper, 5G is much, much faster than 4G. The theoretical maximum speed for 4G is 1Gbps. By way of comparison, the theoretical maximum speed for 5G is 20Gbps. So 5G is up to 20 times faster.
Theoretical speeds are all well and good, my car theoretically does 75 miles to the gallon which we all know they don't. In practice a recent study by Ofcom shows 4G customers see an average speed of around 20Mbps, so if 5G is going to be 20 times faster will we see speeds of 20Gbps?
Potential Business Impacts to 5G
Virtual Interactions - VR is fast becoming a technology in businesses. We see large stores offering Virtual Reality shopping, designers showing their work in VR, so will the faster speeds of 5G offer more real-time visual interactions with our customers, virtual meetings with clients while on the road or just a more stable faster connection for video conferencing. I think so.
Move to the Cloud - One of the biggest benefits of 5G for business is its ability to support far more devices at a single time than even today’s superfast 4G. Faster upload and download speeds while on the go will encourage more businesses to look at cloud software for storage, accounting, telephony.
A more reliable connection - Still in the modern world we work in we still have a large reliance on an old 140 year old copper network to connect to the wider world. 5G with promised speeds of 20Gbps plus could see a large shift in the way we connect in the office. Why rely on underground cables, have Openreach come dig up the street to get a cable in when you could just connect to a mobile phone mast.
More efficiency - With faster speeds and lower latency the workforce will become more connected. Our customers will become more efficient online and so will our workforce doing away with the need to be in the office to connect.
4G Development - One of the largest impacts we have seen from any network upgrade is the previous developments become the norm. 2G became wide spread when 3G came out, 3G when 4G arrived so if the pattern continues when we see 5G the 4G network should be almost everywhere giving the best chance to connect any business around the UK.
Greater online consumer demand - Even with 4G we still see businesses that have no online presence, no website, no online store but this will have to change to keep up with consumer trends. Consumers no longer use the Yellow Pages left at the front door to find businesses, they use their mobiles while in the street, the tap their tablets on the train. With 5G and faster connectivity this trend is only set to grow, so don't get left behind in the fast digital race.
Global Standard Of Networking - 5G is said to be standard throughout the world so if you travel for business, have clients abroad you'll be in luck.
The World Radio Communications Conferences have led to various countries agreeing upon which radio frequencies and spectrum bands will be used. This ensures a 5G phone will work equally well in any member country, without dropping calls and features.
We still have a few years to go, with I'm sure many more twists and turns on how 5G will revolutionise the way we work and live. The world is becoming ever more connected creating new opportunities for all types of businesses.