The UK should start getting to grips with 5G now to achieve a roll out by 2020


The UK Government wants the country to be among the early adopters of a 5G network, however, a sturdy bridge from the still-new 4G network to the ultra-powerful 5G must be built before it becomes available for commercialisation.

In January, the government’s commitment to the initiative again reached new heights when it tapped the European Union to develop new standards on the upcoming “super-fast” wireless technology.

A huge part of 5G’s appeal is conducting more research and studies on forming the basis for the development of cloud computing, cybersecurity, digitalisation of the manufacturing industry, and, most importantly, the Internet of Things (IoT).

However, it seems the UK has to put its effort more in looking at its current internet speeds, the ones directly affecting the general public today.

Although the average internet speed in the UK improved by 10% in 2015 from the previous year, it still lags behind other European countries such as Denmark, Romania and Latvia. The country, despite its soaring GDP, is 17 ranks off the top spot, which is currently held by South Korea at 22.2 Mbps. Even in peak connectivity rankings, the UK speed remains dismal at 48.4 Mbps against Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan and Australia’s over 400 Mbps.

Nonetheless, these numbers show economic growth has nothing to do with having a stronger internet infrastructure.

India, for instance, despite being among the fastest growing economies in Asia, has been slow at internet and broadband adoption at 2.2 Mbps and still succumbs to a dismal average speeds of 7.5 Mbps. This problem, along with the call drop quandary that has been beleaguering the country for years now, has encouraged local Tier One telcos such as Vodafone to tap the services of 5BARz International in 2015. The company is the one behind the plug-and-play device capable of improving a network’s signal even outside an enclosed space.


Perhaps the UK Government’s preparation for 5G utilisation could put the country a little closer to Singapore or South Korea in 2020. Fortunately, the sincerity – both from telcos and regulators – is very evident.

In the last quarter of 2015, several mergers were announced as part of the involved telcos’ commitment to making their services better and stronger. Among which is the merger of BT Group and EE, which just recently obtained clearance from the UK’s regulatory watchdogs. O2 and Three also announced a planned merger last year, which is considered among the most controversial in the country in recent years.

These mergers, according to experts, could potentially address the existing national issues over-the-top services, falling revenues, and the opportunities and pitfalls that lie ahead of the utilisation of IoT.

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has also encouraged local firms to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction to be held this year, as a preparation for the 5G network commercialisation. The bidders are expected to pay the equivalent of around three-quarters of the money spent on 4G network release in 2013.

Also, as reported by The Register, UK telco bureaucrats are cooperating with a team of European mobile carriers, collaborating with China, in understanding the still-unexplored potentials of a 5G network.

Preparing for 5G is important to various governments, especially those with giant economies such as the UK, which could afford its expensive commercialisation.

Better internet speeds mean a larger and livelier mobile market, faster research and development in all sectors, and an increased attention from investors and entrepreneurs. Therefore, becoming among the first adopters of 5G could mean a lot to UK – it’s all about clout, economic power and much more.