5G is the fifth generation of mobile phone and data networks. The rollout has already started – here’s what you need to know.

Today’s mobile phone and mobile data networks tend to use 4G and in some cases, 3G infrastructure. The latest 5G network is designed to work as a “network of networks” in that it will bind together multiple existing and future standards, including the current 4G networks.

5G networks are estimated to be up to 20 times faster than 4G. The new networks will offer lower latency and much greater capacity to support growth in traffic. However, 5G will offer more than just increased performance. It will enable new services such as fast mobile broadband without the need for landlines, on the road it will allow communication between vehicles (another step closer to self-driving cars), better connectivity between smart devices, smart infrastructure such as factories and airports, etc.

From a business perspective, some manufacturers are already experimenting with things like predictive maintenance and smart infrastructure. The current default connectivity mechanism is Wi-Fi but this is not always convenient, reliable or compatible with the working environment. Private networks, enabled by 5G’s capabilities and coverage characteristics, will help businesses to overcome these challenges.

The increased speeds available on 5G will accommodate and improve the lives of those who work remotely.

File sharing across networks and communication over services such as Skype will be faster, slicker and more stable. More reliable connectivity and better conference calls / video conferences will undoubtedly encourage more businesses to adopt remote working. This may help to cut down on commuting, putting less pressure on transport networks and reducing employee stress.

5G is being rolled out by various network providers including EE, O2, 3 and Vodafone. They have started by launching 5G in major cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol, etc.

Over time coverage in these cities will improve and the availability of 5G will grow. There are various online coverage tools which show the availability of 5G on a map and are useful for helping businesses to decide whether they are ready to invest in 5G now or wait until the new network is better established. A range of 5G devices and data SIM cards are already available from the various network operators.