5G is here. Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London will be among the first cities in the world to receive 5G – the new super-fast, highly responsive mobile technology. Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton will follow later this year.
What is more, 5G roaming is also here. Vodafone is first out of the trap among UK network operators and as well as the above cities in the UK, Vodafone will also offer 5G roaming in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.
In fact, the UK is leading the way in adopting 5G and it will price 5G the same as 4G for both consumers and business customers. A choice of 5G smartphones will be available to buy online or in Vodafone stores over the summer. The first smartphone goes on sale next week. Vodafone will also offer a 5G router for use in the home and office to give customers without a fixed line connection high-speed broadband access. It is also ideal for those customers replacing their home or business broadband; needing a second connection; or who require instant Internet access at an outdoor event.
So what will it usher in in terms of services and opportunities?
Vodafone has already used it to make the UK’s first holographic call from Vodafone’s Manchester office featured England and Manchester City Women’s Football Captain, Steph Houghton MBE. Using 5G technology, Steph appeared as a live 3D hologram on stage in front of an audience at Vodafone’s UK headquarters in Newbury.
Steph’s hologram gave footballing tips to 11-year-old Manchester City and Lionesses fan, Iris, in Newbury. The exchange demonstrated the exciting possibilities that new technology can bring to sport, including remote coaching and training, as well as the opportunity to bring sports fans closer to their idols.
The industry is also looking to leverage 5G to bring about the internet of things (IoT), as well as some more off the wall offerings including, a pet tracker, a luggage tracker and a device to help you keep track of your keys, laptop, briefcase or other valuables.
But these are all just mere fripperies. What 5G really does is create the ability for high speed connectivity everywhere, which will bring about access to the kinds of services currently enjoyed in the home: Netflix, movies, sports and so on. In short, it will democratise OTT services for all.
We have seen a lot over the past few months around OTT services and how they have changed forever how people watch TV, listen to the radio and consume all sorts of content. 5G brings that to all handsets and devices.
And with it comes the ability to snack content, to build new services, make them interactive and of course charge for them.
Here lie the telemedia opportunities: to create new services and to bill for them. What they will be – aside from holographic calls, which could be something interesting in certain ends of the industry – I don’t know, but finally the 5G door is opening and it is time to march through it.