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What is 5G?

An industrial game-changer

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What is 5G?

We’re all used to the latest generations of mobile telecoms - so is 5G “just another upgrade?” Far from it - 5G is a huge leap forward - akin to the shift from the horse and cart to cars. And it isn’t just a network: 5G will become the underpinning for the entire global digital economy, capable of generating trillions of pounds of value.

Everyone and every industry will feel its effects. Compared to today, 5G will be 10 to 20 times faster and support billions of digital devices with much greater reliability and security. 5G provides the platform for the Internet of Things - everything from self-driving cars, to enhanced medical and social care, to all manner of new industrial and business applications. Well established online services like media and entertainment will see significant improvements such as ultra-high definition video and very low latency online gaming. The UK is well positioned to create major economic advantages from this through new jobs, boosting the productivity of existing businesses and facilitating the creation of new industries, revolutionary new products and services.

5G couples a full fibre fixed network approach with high capacity, high reliability and low latency mobile plus advanced software approaches such as edge computing and network virtualisation. New techniques such as network slicing allow different types of services to run simultaneously, vastly increasing the scope of applications and services that can be supported. In effect, one 5G network can act as thousands, or even billions, of virtual networks, each specialised for a particular task or dedicated to a single customer, but all running on one physical infrastructure.

While consumers may be the most obvious beneficiaries of faster, more intelligent and useful services, 5G will also bring enormous benefits and opportunities to businesses by allowing enhancements and differentiators to existing products and services or by providing a platform for entirely new digital services. 5G is an industrial game-changer and one that you can’t ignore. With trials enabling technology already underway around the world, 5G will become an increasing reality within the next couple of years. For applications such as emergency services, government, and educational needs, 5G can provide secure, private connectivity without the need to build stand-alone networks of their own.

5G is of such critical importance the UK economy that the Government is strongly backing efforts to help the UK become a market leader in exploiting the technology. It has recently published a strategy to orchestrate a vibrant UK 5G world and the actions needed to speed its introduction. It is actively coordinating efforts to accelerate making 5G a reality and is funding trials of the technology, ground-breaking applications and innovative business partnerships across a wide range of urban and rural applications.

Related resources

UK5G Special Edition Magazine

An overview of the six Phase 1 trials that showcase the best of UK innnovation, resources and expertise

5G Explained, by Vodafone

A straightforward explanation of how 5G works for business and what it can offer

What is 5G? Naked Scientist Podcast

An interview in June 2019 with Paul Beastall, UK5G Advisory Board

Raconteur 5G Insight

This insert into The Times provides a detailed overview of the current state of 5G

5G Health & Environmental Effects

A review of current information on the effects of wireless communications on health and environmental health and whether 5G raises any new issues. Last updated March 2019.

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