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UK will not be early adopter of 5G - O2

Friday, November 28th 2014 by Hannah Langston

The UK risks falling behind other countries as its mobile operators are years away from introducing a fifth generation (5G) network, O2 has said.

Earlier this year Boris Johnson announced plans to bring 5G speeds to London in 2020.

However, an O2 spokesperson told Cable.co.uk this will most likely be after other countries have already rolled out the next generation technology: “The UK is helping with the development of 5G but it may be that some countries have earlier demands and industrial policies that may lead to earlier adoption of 5G.”

South Korea is one of the countries pioneering 5G technology and plans to launch a limited trial network in 2017.

“5G is still a few years away from launching with plenty of research, trials and standardisation still needed, but we’re working with 5G Innovation Centre at Surrey University to help with this,” the spokesperson said.

They attributed the delay to the need for handsets to be affordable for UK consumers.

“We will need shared international research and development to deliver the best results and lowest unit costs.

“Let's also be clear though – these are multi-mode services that build on existing services and investment and the UK has a proud record in global innovation in mobile and internet based innovation.”

According to O2, 5G will offer “higher speed data communication” than 4G, allowing users to “download a film in under a minute, add lower latency and reduce buffering and add more capacity".

O2 added that it would offer “better support to developer communities and innovation hubs such as Tech City”.

The University of Surrey has set up a £5m government-funded lab to test fifth generation mobile technologies.

The centre is expected to provide a 5G test network to the university campus including 17,000 staff and students by the beginning of 2018.

Image courtesy of Sasha Kargaltsev

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