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The launch of 5G in the UK: What is it and when do we get it?

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The launch of 5G in the UK: What is it and when do we get it?

5G is on its way. 2019 is the year that we will see the latest development in wireless technology, promising superfast data and improved coverage.

To coincide with the emergence of 5G, we will also see the very first 5G phones launching this year which will run on the fifth generation network from the get-go.

With the exciting launch fast approaching, let's take a look at what 5G is bringing to the table, and when it’s happening.

What is 5G?

5G simply stands for 5th Generation, as it’s the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity technology. 4G is the current incarnation of the technology, providing smartphone users across the world with high speed internet. However, it’s set to get a lot faster with the introduction of 5G, the technology for which is still in the earlier stages, with roll-out set to hit the mainstream throughout 2019.

5G doesn’t just refer to faster mobile internet speeds though. It’s actually quite a broad term that covers a range of technology that will make use of higher radio frequencies to ensure the best connectivity. It’s the method of connection that will bring futuristic technology such as smart glasses and automated cars to the forefront, with devices like these requiring a strong level of connectivity to function at a useable level.

5G wireless network

When can we expect 5G to be rolled out?

2019 is the year of fifth generation wireless, and we can expect to see the first wave of 5G phones available in the UK by the summer. Major network carriers EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 have already confirmed to be launching their 5G services before the year is out.

Unlike the 2013 introduction of 4G, the initial rollout of 5G will be a much slower process and is expected to span out over a period of years.

Here’s when you can expect to see 5G become available from four main network carriers:

  • EE has been trialling its 5G network in London already this year, and will be rolling it out in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester commercially this summer. Mid-to-late 2019, they plan to extend their 5G coverage to  Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
  • Vodafone will launch their 5G services in major cities Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London before the end of 2019, with plans to also roll it out in the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall and the Lake District.
  • O2 have named London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff as the first cities to receive their 5G network before the end of the year, with plans to roll out to other parts of the UK at a later date when more 5G devices are available on the market.
  • Three has not yet confirmed specific locations for their launch, but have claimed to be building the UK’s fastest network, “with twice as much 5G spectrum as anyone else.”

What improvements can we expect 5G to bring?

5G promises to change our lives in ways we are only just beginning to comprehend. With it comes the capability to connect everything around us to a network that is 100 times faster than our current cellular connection: 4G can reach up to 100 megabits per second while 5G will theoretically take us up to 10 gigabits per second. That means 5G is a hundred times faster than the current 4G technology.

When we say 5G has the potential to connect to everything around us, we really mean it. The Internet of Things concept is something that has been discussed at great length, and we’ve already seen some early technological trends in the form of ‘smart’ household appliances. Energy monitoring devices, thermostats and speaker systems join items like the Amazon Echo in contributing to what we’re beginning to know as a ‘smart house.’

With these items soon to run off of a 5G connection, they will only benefit from the increased speed, responsiveness and reach. New capabilities are sure to follow and it may only be a matter of time before self-driving cars and immersive virtual reality become commonplace.

Which companies are leading in 5G?

Leading players in the 5G technology market are Verizon, AT&T, Nokia, Samsung and Huawei. With growth in the global 5G market forecasted between 2016 and 2024, cultivated by increased worldwide adoption of the technology, we can expect to see these companies driving the industry forward.

Want to keep up to date with the latest 5G developments, news and information? has regular updates about the technology and its rollout.

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