The UK has the world’s fastest mobile data speeds, hitting a massive 26Mbps, according to the latest State of the Internet report by data firm Akamai.
5G masts and ‘small cells’ are popping up all over the world as firms scramble to take advantage of the new tech. But the UK is lagging behind – see below.
Mobile data traffic grew by 12% in the first three months of 2017, compared to the final three months of 2016.
The slowest mobile connections are in Venezuela at just a tenth of the UK’s average speed, where the average user can get just 2.8Mbps data rates on their phones.
Germany took second place with 24.1Mbps.
Our nearest neighbour, Ireland, has just half the average 4G speed at 13Mbps.
4G data speeds are well ahead of fixed broadband, Akamai has found: while the average UK user can get 26Mbps 4G, broadband data rates sit at an average 16.9Mbps.
And this report on our sister site BroadbandDeals.co.uk notes how the UK failed to make the top 10 in Europe for broadband – behind much less wealthy countries like Romania, Hungary and Latvia.
Continuing the trend of quarters past, the first quarter of 2017 saw rapid gains in mobile networks, from 4G and LTE-A deployments to 5G developments.- Akamai: State of the Internet Q1 2017
UK lagging behind in 5G
The international standards for 5G produced by the International Telecommunication
Union says 5G should be able to achieve at least 20Gbps downloads and 10Gbps uploads.
American firm Verizon managed to stream 4K video at 5G speeds in a race car driving at 60mph in this most recent test.
And 5G should be available across 11 US cities by the end of 2017
Back at home, O2 appear to be the UK’s best bet for 5G.
eport says the Spanish-owned firm reckon 5G will be worth more to the UK economy than broadband by 2026.
And O2 are spending £80m to install ‘small cells’ across London in preparation for 5G.
Phones can’t handle 5G yet
It was only at the 2017 Mobile World Congress at the end of February that Chinese company ZTE unveiled what it claims to be the first gigabit-enabled smartphone.
So while companies are ramping up their speed tests it’ll take a whole new architecture of phone to take advantage of 5G.
As BroadbandDeals.co.uk reporter Sam Newman writes: “5G is expected to become widely available in the UK by around 2020 but the tech is at a very early stage.
“Ofcom will begin auctioning off bands of the UK’s wireless spectrum later this year – allowing companies to stake their claim on the waves that will eventually become the 5G network.”