The challenges of introducing 5G in the UK
The Government is looking to ensure that ultrafast internet connectivity becomes the norm by 2020. However, if the UK wants to cultivate smart cities, then it will have to rethink how 5G networks are installed in the country.
5G is supposed to run several times faster than 4G, with no latency issues and the ability to handle multiple connections. However, some industry experts believe that local city councils will have to change their approach to infrastructure development and planning to make certain that users can enjoy the benefits of 5G connectivity.
Julian David, CEO of techUK, pointed out that 5G’s reduced latency and higher capacity compared to the 4G networks that the UK currently has will help further the adoption of the Internet of Things, particularly connected vehicles.
However, some industry experts noted that the long-term flexibility in 5G networks is key. Presently, the UK faces restrictions in spectrum, and hence, it cannot support a range of users simultaneously. If the infrastructure is in place, then this issue will be overcome, as 5G allows multiple users to connect to a network with ease.
Mr David stated that the country would require several small-cell mini base stations to ensure universal coverage, as currently, these stations have limited range. He estimated that in London alone, as many as 200,000 base stations would be needed. This can be solved by local authorities hastening the planning process and being willing to use street furniture for infrastructure installation, even though communities may protest.
Since the volume of data flow will be high, it will be necessary for cities to have more fibre optics. This can pose a challenge, especially in older cities, and put major strain on the financial resources of network providers.
The cost of introducing 5G networks across the country would run into billions of pounds. While telecoms don’t expect local authorities to foot the bill, they would like them to create an environment that encourages network operators to invest so that it is a mutually beneficial deal for all stakeholders.