As the 4G Freeview Fail rears its ugly head, Ofcom says that it’s time to start planning for 5G to prevent future screw-ups.
Plans for a future 5G auction have been detailed by Ofcom’s chief technology officer Steve Unger, who hopes that the next next generation mobile wireless technology will focus on improving signal strength and consistency as well as ramping up the speed.
The launch of 5G will also focus on making sure there’s enough data out there so that we can all carry on reading tech news articles on the toilet and post Instagrammed pictures of cats to Facebook, or whatever the social network du jour of 2030 will be.
Speaking to the Financial Times [paywall], Unger predicts that we’ll be using 80 times as much data by then:
“There are three ways to meet the demand for more data – more spectrum, better use of spectrum and more cell sites. We need to progress on all three fronts, which is in effect what we mean by 5G, to meet the 80-fold increase in data usage we predict by 2030.”
It’s expected that 5G mobile services will utilise the 700MHz band of the airwaves which could precipitate another round of Freeview testing and migration in the future.
While this news will no doubt be greeted with consternation from those already miffed at the prospect of having to install signal filters to mitigate interference caused by 4G, the benefits of 5G should outweigh this inconvenience.
Ungar says: “We expect 5G will be about making mobile data ubiquitous – you won’t lose reception, or worry that your service will be too slow. It will always be there, always reliable, to the extent that it will become a fixed line substitute.”
5G as a standard has not yet been defined, so we really don’t know how fast 5G speeds will be or how reliable the coverage will be. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo and the Tokyo Institute of Technology has successfully trialled 10Gbps speeds, albeit in the higher frequency 11GHz spectrum.
Given that the 700MHz frequency has been earmarked for 5G by Ofcom, this suggests better indoor coverage than 4G – lower frequencies are better at penetrating walls and solid objects than higher frequencies. In the UK, the University of Surrey has set up a 5G research project which aims to trial various 5G solutions.
By 2030, we’d hopefully have FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband available everywhere so 10Gbps speeds, which are possible on BT’s network now, shouldn’t be that mindblowing. By 2030 all food should be in pill form and the UK should have established it’s third lunar colony as well.