A telecoms boss says hyper-connective 5G technology will give rise to true smart cities.

The first 5G-ready smartphones are expected to be released early next year and networks around the world are readying themselves to flip the switch on 5G coverage.

Promising to be up to 30 times faster than current network infrastructure, 5G will allow for seemingly instantaneous two-way data transfer and has been heralded as a game-changer.

Iain Shearman, MD of National Network Services for Hull-based KCOM, describes the fifth generation of mobile connectivity as “the most transformational network technology yet”.

“Testing is underway in the UK, but it’s unlikely we’ll see widespread coverage until around 2020, with IoT connectivity chasing its tail,” he told BusinessCloud.

“Unlike its predecessors, has the power to connect not just mobile devices but ‘everything to everything’. It will unlock the potential for data to drive more efficient management of assets, resources and services, enabling futuristic applications that once seemed out of reach to become a reality.

“From equipping connected autonomous vehicles with the ability to make decisions faster than a human being to giving retailers access to live behavioural and customer data and the proactive repair of connected machines in manufacturing, it will lift the barrier on the smart city of the future.”

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However Shearman (pictured below) also pointed to the stalled rollout of the UK’s 5G network to date due to hardware security concerns and rural broadband connectivity.

“The structural challenges posed by 5G means the rollout will be much more gradual than the seemingly sudden launch of 4G,” he said.

“All stakeholders, including the government and technology providers, must collaborate effectively if we are to achieve the end-goal of a fully connected and digital society.”

Iain Shearman

Offering advice to businesses, he said it is important that they do not consider 5G a ‘silver bullet’ to their connectivity requirements.

“While the possibilities are attractive, businesses must examine how and why they want to use this technology, both in terms of deployment and security,” he said.

“Careful consideration must be given to the compatibility of 5G with other services in the digital infrastructure, as well as acknowledgment that change requires spend.

“The challenge for many businesses will be transitioning from traditional legacy systems, cultures and ways of working to enable them to make the most of the smart, new, connected world ahead.

“While 5G will open up a many opportunities, it’s crucial that businesses walk before they can run. It is one thing to recognise the potential in the network, but another to ensure deployment will support and build, rather than hinder a business.”

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