Careful readers of the business pages might have noticed this story in recent weeks: the news that SoftBank, the Japanese mobile technology giant has backed what looks like a bid to create a new mobile network in the UK.
As industry insiders point out, the bid is unlikely to be a serious threat to the country’s four main mobile operators – Vodafone, O2, Three and EE – but it does shed light on a crucial auction due to take place in the coming weeks. Ofcom is releasing more airwaves in a so-called ‘spectrum auction’, for which six companies are registered to bid. As the above article explains, ‘the auction will include 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz band, which is already supported by existing devices, and 150 MHz of 3.4 GHz band which will allow 5G to be rolled out.’
The Emergency Services Network (ESN) is an ongoing project to create a truly next-generation communications system for the UK’s police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services. It’s going to be a unified, integrated Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network that can carry critical data applications and broadband services as well as voice communications, and will be more resilient, reliable and secure than the current, disparate networks. It will enable the three emergency services to communicate and collaborate with each other, ultimately working more effectively and saving more lives. In short, it is intended to carry the UK’s emergency services into the future.
Have you got an Apple Watch yet? The third iteration of the device was recently launched – and, as outlined here, it comes with one very distinctive new feature – LTE connectivity.
The jury is still out as to whether this is a game-changing development for the Apple Watch or just a nice-to-have, and regardless of how it ends up positioning Apple in the marketplace, it’s certainly had some technical difficulties to iron out.
The LTE era moved a little closer this month, with the first interoperability tests for mission-critical LTE scheduled to take place at the ETSI headquarters in France.
What does this mean in practice? LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It’s a next generation standard for mobile communications, the latest iteration of an evolution that started with the analogue 1G standard in the 1980s. LTE increases both the speed and latency of wireless communications, which in turn increases reliability, clarity and mobility, with the opportunity to add more data-rich applications to communications networks.
Earlier this week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced that the UK government will invest more than £1bn in digital infrastructure, in order to support trials for 5G mobile technology.
The current ambition of the government is for the UK to be a world leader in 5G. The next generation of mobile technology will become commonplace across the UK within the next few years, but what is 5G, and what does this revolution mean for the communications industry?