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Half of Small UK Businesses Say 5G Mobile is Overhyped

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 (2:26 pm) - Score 750

A new Consumer Intelligence survey of 1,068 UK SMEs, which was commissioned by broadband ISP Onecom and conducted between May and July 2019, has found that 51% of small and medium sized businesses feel the benefits of ultrafast 5G (mobile) technology are being overhyped.

The survey also discovered that only 29% of SMEs had a very good understanding of what 5G is, when it will be available and what its benefits are likely to be. By comparison a further 41% said they understood the mobile technology “quite well“, while 22% had an average understanding, 7% said they had very little knowledge of it and just 1% didn’t know about it at all.

At present 5G networks, which tend to promise lower latency times (faster) and multi-Gigabit broadband speeds (mobile broadband), are still in their infancy with limited access to spectrum (hampers speed) and very little coverage across the United Kingdom. However more radio spectrum bands are due to be released in 2020 and coverage is set to improve significantly next year, which should start to help realise some of the early performance claims.

In the longer term Onecom expects 5G to power a range of business products and services, fuelling adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and further strengthening the digital infrastructure available to enterprises. In the short-term, they believe 5G can help businesses get better connected, at far higher speeds.

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13 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    If you want a proper tale about 5th Generation mobile then you should try to get an interview with Peter Cochrane. He can cut through they hype and give you facts. https://www.slideshare.net/PeterCochrane/5-g-the-big-game-changer

  2. Avatar ianh

    I agree, my phone is fast enough. My broadband however….yikes.

  3. Avatar Fred

    Well, it probably isn’t important for the majority of small businesses – certainly in the short term. The applications for 5G are not particularly clear at the moment. There will be some applications but grasping their mass appeal requires a crystal ball. Mobile gaming is definitely a target market as is non-mobile gaming with very low latency. However, there are only going to be limited businesses making money from gaming.

    IoT – I think there will be some money to make here but personally it leaves me a bit cold. IoT for infrastructure sounds potentially of more value than IoT using in smart fridges and wearables to me but then again I am not the sort of person who would buy a smart speaker or fit-bit or similar. More worrying for those wanting to line pockets is what the younger generation are interested in – not old farts like me. Anecdotally I see large swathes of the younger generation turning their back on much of this stuff. Social media is not cool and many young people are (probably quite rightly) nervous about smart speakers and other ‘must-have’ gadgets that are collecting data to miss-use against them. I really don’t understand how smart every device is going to enrich my life – my dumb fridge, dumb kettle, dumb oven, dumb iron, dumb sofa etc are not holding me back in any way I can reasonably identify. Even if I was in a mind for fit-bits and similar, bluetooth to a 4G smartphone appears to get the job done.

    Basically I do not see the ‘killer app’ for 5G at the moment and I certainly don’t see how it will revolutionise the average small business.

    Also, whilst I am at it, I am not sure we have really grasped what we can fully utilise 1 Gig+ broadband for, for the typical household. Sure, building extensible future proof infrastructure makes sense but the typical household isn’t going to need 1 Gbps any time soon. The big bandwidth hogs today are cloud gaming (maybe 50Mbps), 4K TV 20Mbps…..Even with a family of 6 it is hard to see how a 250Mbps service isn’t going to be adequate for the mid term. My broadband is ~30Mbps 4G and whilst I might struggle if there were kids in the house, for me and my wife it is quite adequate for my home working, TV watching habits, cloud backup etc. It even supports a few folks streaming from my PLEX server consecutively.

    As for mobile data consumption – the average smartphone user only uses a handful of MBs a month. Low latency and many connected devices is likely to be a much more useful capability of 5G than bandwidth.

    I know people will disagree with me but that is fine, I am happy being a luddite.

  4. Avatar Fred

    Here is an article about the future killer app from a well respected industry magazine:

    https://www.vanillaplus.com/2019/09/19/48534-video-streaming-named-usas-killer-app-5g-tech-prediction-season-opens-early/

    And another:

    https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190911/5g/killer-5g-app-apac

    Mobile video streaming? Can’t most people already watch all the video streaming they want on their mobile over 4G – what is 5G adding to that mix – surely there is a limit to how much video people want to consume anyway? I think the 2nd article which lists infrastructure projects is closer to the mark. Given I can’t get 4G on my phone at home (can get it on router with directional antenna) then 5G might be some time off for me yet anyways…..

  5. Avatar Fred

    The main reason a parking meter might need 5G is the large number of connected devices – there tends to be a lot of parking meters in close proximity. Of course a 4G parking meter could only connect when it had something useful to transmit like a new transaction.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      I don’t think parking meters are the killer app as round LONDON parking meters are rapidly disappearing as pay by phone / app has totally taken over. Also saves the quite high costs of cash collection and maintenance.

      Quite often the power is then being reused for vehicle charging.

    • Avatar Leex

      Silly thing is there is already a Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) LTE for this type of application

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrowband_IoT

  6. Avatar Gary

    But you have to create a ‘need’ if you want to sell new phones and services ! Sure its faster, low latency etc but many of the fantastical usage scenarios are fun to read, Like.. 5G can enable a surgeon to perform operations using a robot remotely, well yeah maybe in a fully equipped and staffed operating room, sounds like a good reason to spend billions covering the country with 5G.

    We haven’t managed to get 4G anywhere near where it needs to be in terms of coverage and signal strength/reliability and now we’re swooning over a system that provides even less range, I cant help but feel the timescale for comprehensive coverage is going to be staggering, and by the time we start to get there what will be the new tech to chase.

    • Avatar Alex

      It’s probably feasible to build an operating room in an ambulance, reducing the time needed to get emergency patients into surgery. Might not be worth doing 5G just for that, but I wouldn’t say no if I ended up needing it.

  7. Avatar Fred

    5G is a solution that is still looking for the problem.

    A 5G handset or router isn’t on my list for Santa – although I have been a very naughty boy and don’t expect Santa will be visiting me anyway 🙁

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