What is 5G?
5G literally means the fifth generation of mobile technology. The term started with ‘1G’ when the first handheld wireless phone was used by John Mitchell and Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973.
We’ve gone from making calls on phones that were the size of bricks, to learning how to text (and play Snake), to our phones becoming a core part of our lives. We’ve gotten used to touchscreens on smartphones, we can watch Netflix during the commute to work and many of us are now controlling our homes by using apps.
We’re already pretty connected, however the rise of 5G hopes to offer faster speeds and more reliable connections than ever before.
What’s happening in the UK?
O2 is testing 5G at its self-titled arena in Greenwich, London, with plans to roll out full coverage in 2020. The mobile operator has recently unveiled a trial where LED light bulbs will be used to provide high-speed wireless connectivity. This is a result of a partnership with pureLiFi, a startup which uses LED lights to send large amounts of data.
In 2018, Vodafone became the first company in the UK to stream 5G over a commercial network from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. The site is currently providing 5G coverage to Manchester’s media hub, MediaCityUK and the surrounding area, and forms part of Vodafone’s 5G trials happening in several UK cities this year including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London.
Three is overhauling its network and has committed to spending over £2bn on 5G, which will involve replacing its signalling equipment, so that the network is ready when 5G become commercially viable. The firm plans to launch its new network this year.
The West Midlands has become the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed, as part of the government’s Urban Connected Communities Project.
2019 will also see the launch of 5G handsets from phone companies, with potential launches to happen at the industry’s biggest show, the Mobile World Congress, in February.
How does this affect property?
5G will provide a new capacity with potential to send and receive more mass amounts of data than ever before, and the usage of sensors and Internet of Things software will expand greatly.
Many buildings throughout the world are already using IoT products including programmable light bulbs, smart thermostats, doors that can be locked with an app, and sensors that can measure pretty much anything the property manager and its tenants want. 5G will require around 90% less energy, which greatly enhances the battery life of these remote devices and the networks will be able support a greater number of them.
The new networks will provide the ability to transmit higher definition video, including augmented and virtual reality applications which are proving popular within the industry. Many property companies are already delving into using these new technologies as marketing and visualisation tools.
5G will increase the potential to create a more tangible virtual world and experience with less lagging making VR and AR serious tools.
In addition, 5G could help facilitate the shift to autonomous vehicles. Currently, driverless cars are using 4G networks to communicate and react to risks, with the speed of 5G networks it could greatly increase software reaction times.
In 2018 RICS issued a joint statement, along with the CLA (Country Land and Business Association), Mobile UK and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport on ongoing discussions linked to the new Electronics Communications Code and have agreed to work together to improve mobile phone coverage across the country.
The Electronics Communications Code is designed to facilitate the installation and maintenance of electronic communications networks.
Mark Talbot FRICS, chair of the RICS Telecoms Forum said: “With high speed internet seen by many as the fourth utility service, the public and businesses expect access to digital services when they want and as they want, these expectations are only set to increase as we see the coming national roll out of 5G mobile technology. RICS believes that the reformed ECC is a great step forward towards this goal and that it is critical that professionals work together to enable this important element of the UK’s national economic infrastructure.”
Want to know more? Check out Urban Land Institute’s video on how 5G technology impacts property development below.