Where it all began
Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without the internet at our fingertips. Mobile phones began with 1G – the first generation of wireless cellular technology. 1G is analog technology and phones using it had poor voice quality, little security, and were prone to dropped calls – not ideal when conducting business deals. The leap from 1G to 2G introduced call and text encryption, along with data services such as SMS, picture messages, and MMS.
Along came 3G
3G – the third generation mobile network – revolutionised the connectivity and capabilities of mobile phones. Mobiles were no longer just about calls and texts. The internet was in the palm of your hand; SATNAV directions popped up at the touch of a button; browsing social media was suddenly available to you any time, any place, and you were able to share files and video call with colleagues. Due to mobile internet, the way businesses operate changed forever.
Then there was 4G
Everything was transformed again with the rollout of 4G. The fourth generation network was five times faster than the 3G network. 4G was an exceptional technological advancement. Ofcom states that it takes less than a second for a basic web page to load on a smartphone using a 4G mobile connection (0.78 seconds on average across all networks). This compares to 1.06 seconds on average across all networks using a 3G mobile connection. But we still demanded further evolution in technology to allow more traffic, faster and more efficient flow, as well as greater reliably.
The hotly anticipated fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity will transform it all again. Industry experts predict that 5G will offer speeds 20 times faster than existing connections. It will change not just how we use our mobiles, but how we connect our devices to the internet. According to a study from Qualcomm, by 2035, 5G could underpin up to £9.3 trillion worth of goods and services in industries such as retail, healthcare, education, transportation, entertainment and more.
What does 5G mean for Aerial Direct?
5G will not replace 4G. It is going to add to it, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data at great speed and lower latency (the measure of the tiny delay that occurs when data gets sent or is received by a device). The faster network will power the huge growth in Internet of Things technology – where smart devices talk to each other via internet connection.
How will 5G benefit Aerial Direct? The key selling point is that 5G will provide faster connectivity than anything ever seen before. This will bring new opportunities for organisations upgrading to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), internet speeds and bandwidth no longer a constraint. With 4G, a fixed amount of bandwidth is assigned in each direction by the network provider – regardless of the volume of data traffic being handled. Whereas 5G is adjustable – if there is congestion in one direction, a different bandwidth can be utilised from the other direction.
As VoIP is real time communication, latency is as important as speed. A 5G connection is expected to deliver a latency as low as one millisecond, which is 40-60 times faster than a 4G network. This is a crucial asset to VoIP systems.
Aerial Direct’s direct business partner, O2 announced the launch of its 5G mobile network in October 2019, going live in 20 towns and cities this year and a total of 50 by Summer 2020. The announcement comes the day after O2 announced its agreement with Vodafone to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites across the UK. This means more people will get 5G mobile connection sooner. Network sharing reaps the benefits of 5G at the same time as reducing the impact on the environment.
Gary Strickland-Smith, Operations Director at Aerial Direct said, “We are highly excited about the roll out of 5G and what it poses for the future development of both our mobile and hosted product offerings. 5G’s increased speeds and improved latency will enable us to deliver an even better service to our customers as we continue to place them at the heart of everything we do.”
Preparing for 5G
You won’t be able to pick up 5G on existing mobile devices – the technology requires a specific set of antennae. Organisations may choose to become early adopters of the first 5G devices. Samsung revealed its first 5G handsets in June. Others may choose to wait for further 5G-enabled technology to become available. Apple, for example, has not yet revealed plans for 5G devices.
5G is going to transform how organisations operate, communicate and work by connecting not only smartphones but also vehicles, factories, offices and even cities. There is still a period of time before businesses will start to benefit from 5G. There won’t be a sudden swap over moment when 5G networks are ‘switched on’. Like everything else in technology, an evolutionary process and mass market adoption will be a slow burn. It is generally accepted that the tide will have fully turned by around 2022. Science fiction becomes science fact.