What is 5G and will Portsmouth residents be able to get it? What is Huawei’s involvement?

SUPER-fast mobile network technology will soon be arriving in parts of this country.

By Matthew Mohan-Hickson
Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 2:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 2:38 pm
5G is coming to the UK soon. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
5G is coming to the UK soon. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

5G is edging towards being ready and will be trialled in cities across the UK in 2019. 

Here's what you need to know: 

What is 5G?

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Prime Minister Theresa May has given the go-ahead for Huawei to help build Britain's new 5G network. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

5G is the next generation of wireless mobile connections, following on from the 4G networks currently used by smartphones across the globe.

As the name suggests, this is the fifth generation of the network technology.

Will Portsmouth residents be able to get it? 

The answer to that is both yes and no.

If you are a Vodafone customer, our city is one of the places the company will be trialling 5G in later this year. 

However if you are on other mobile networks this means you won’t get 5G – at first anyways. 

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Super-fast 5G mobile network set to launch in Portsmouth this year

How fast will 5G be?

There is no official speed standard for 5G, but many experts state it could be 10 times faster than 4G - and therefore potentially faster than home fibre broadband.

‘5G is a next-gen network technology that should deliver speeds of up to 10Gbps - on paper, that's considerably faster than 4G's top-end speed of 300Mbps,’ said Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com.

‘In practice though, as we've seen with 4G, the speeds will likely be well below that but real-world tests do show it's still much quicker than its predecessor.

‘Where you'll see a real difference with 5G is in the speeds you can download Ultra HD and 3D video. At 5G's theoretical top speed, you could download an entire 25GB Ultra HD movie in about 20 seconds.’ 

What are the benefits of 5G?

The most obvious benefit to people will be faster, more reliable connections on their smartphones and other mobile devices, but the network technology will also improve services in other areas.

Ericsson, King's College London and a group of other researchers have already demonstrated how 5G could be used to examine patients remotely, meaning experts can use a sensory glove no matter where they are.

Vodafone recently demonstrated how 5G could be used to carry out live holographic calls, with Manchester City and England Women's football captain Steph Houghton.

How does 5G work?

5G is made up of unique radio frequencies that are broken up into bands. These frequencies are a lot higher than 4G, so can support a bigger capacity.

‘5G is considered a millimetre wave technology - with a shorter wavelength than 4G, it has a higher frequency, which gives it a higher bandwidth and consequently ability to handle more data,’ Mr Doku added.

What is Huawei's involvement in 5G?

The Chinese telecoms giant has got ahead of rivals by rapidly developing key parts of the 5G infrastructure and making it attractive to markets across the world with competitive prices.

‘Huawei is considered months ahead of competition and restricting its involvement could be damaging to the UK's ambition to be among Europe's 5G pacesetters,' said Kester Mann, from CCS Insight.

‘Already, all four network operators have signalled that they will launch commercial 5G services before the end of 2019.

‘Cutting out the market leader would inevitably lead to higher costs of deployment which could ultimately be passed on to consumers.’