Ofcom 5G spectrum auction looms, but what does it all mean?

What is 5G and When Will my City Get It?

You’re likely to have heard “5G” being discussed in the media as of late, as the next generation of mobile network creeps onto the horizon.

But what exactly is 5G? And, perhaps more importantly, when will your city get it?

What is 5G?

5G, or Fifth Generation is just that, the fifth generation of mobile networks, which are what is used to make calls, send texts, and connect to the internet when you are not in range of a Wi-Fi device.

Every generation of mobile network has been greeted with anticipation, as it tends to ensure faster connections, but there’s more than that to cause excitement with 5G.

5G, which will replace 4G, the network designed to make online gaming, video streaming, and mobile internet usage substantially faster, will be the quickest network yet by some distance. Some are even suggesting that 5G could be 100 times faster than 4G.

Crossing the previously untouched threshold of 1Gb/s, 5G should make it possible to download entire movies in a matter of seconds.

Another bonus of 5G will be increased capacity, meaning that networks that use 5G will be able deal with higher demand applications from various devices.

Whereas 4G was designed to deal with increases in video streaming, 5G is set to cater for self-driving cards and other far more complex procedures, with are made possible by the high increase in speed for the next generation of network.

Operators who will offer 5G

Ofcom recently held a spectrum auction where various operators would attempt to gain spectrum at the 3.4GHz band (earmarked for 5G only) and the 2.3GHz band which is expected to help with 5G, but is also usable on 4G networks.

O2 were the big winner of this auction, gaining 40MHz of the 110MHz available 3.4GHz spectrum, and all 40MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum.

Vodafone picked up the most 3.4GHz spectrum with 50MHz, while EE received 40MHz, and Three came out the worst, with just 20MHz.

When Will My City Get It?

For most, the answer to that question appears to be in 2020, when the official launch of 5G in the UK is to be expected, although Japan and China are among countries claiming they will launch networks in late 2018.

UK users may not have to wait quite that long, however, as EE have suggested that they could go live with their 5G network by late 2019.

If you are in Bristol or Bath, on the other hand, you don’t have to wait at all, as these two cities have been chosen to trial public 5G networks.

The rollout of these networks has already begun, and takes place at various tourist spots around the two cities including M Shed, Millennium Square, We The Curious, and more.

5G looks set to change everything, and it’s no surprise that there is a genuine feeling of impatience around the world as we all wait for the arrival of the next generations, although it doesn’t look like we’ll be waiting too much longer!


Andy is an experienced freelance copywriter with a degree in Journalism, based in the North West.
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