Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, today presented the government’s 2017 spring budget to parliament.
In it, he revealed plans for a new ‘5G strategy’, designed to improve internet speeds for millions and strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in mobile tech.
Here’s what you need to know about 5G, and the government’s plans for improving it.
What is 5G?
5G is short for 5th generation mobile networks, or 5th generation wireless systems.
As we all know, there are now thousands of devices that connect and respond to the internet every day. According to Gartner, 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. These objects need a steady internet connection to work properly: 5G will provide that.
Since the 1990s, we’ve moved from 1G (which allowed two mobile phones to call each other but nothing else) through to 4G LTE, where we can call, text, and connect to the internet through a number of devices. 5G will develop the capabilities of 4G.
How will 5G compare to 4G?
In a nutshell: it’s a hell of a lot faster.
Here’s what Gizmodo have to say about the changes:
“Currently, 4G LTE transfer speeds top out at about one gigabit per second. That means it takes about an hour to download a short HD movie in perfect conditions… 5G will increase download speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. That means a full HD movie can be downloaded in a matter of seconds. It will also reduce latency significantly (giving people faster load times).”
Say goodbye to the endless buffering wheel.
What did the budget say about 5G?
Currently, 5G is only available in a handful of locations in the US as part of test schemes. Further test areas will be implemented in the near future, with a notable one in Tokyo announced under a partnership from Intel and Ericcson.
We’re still a long way off 5G in the UK, but Philip Hammond’s 5G strategy will start to implement changes.
The government are proposing the following investments in 5G and tech:
- £300m for research talent, including 1,000 PhD places for STEM subjects
- £270m for robots, driverless cars and biotech
- £16m for a 5G mobile technology hub
- £200m for fibre broadband
What does 5G mean for brands?
Because 5G will enable significantly faster download speeds, we anticipate many brands – tech or otherwise – will jump on 5G to increase their use of video in marketing. This great news for tech brands: according to HubSpot, including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.
TechRepublic also has some opinions on how businesses will benefit from the introduction of 5G:
“Businesses will see benefits in efficiency, with particular focus on energy efficiency and operational management. Tracking and tracing capability will allow vehicle fleets to be monitored, leading to reductions in accidents and fuel consumption as well as enabling proactive maintenance to improve operational reliability. Smart buildings will deliver energy savings and security enhancements.”
Faster internet speeds will also be welcomed by businesses that use remote working: team members will be able to enjoy the same speeds whether they’re in the same room, or halfway around the world.
And finally… what’s the deal with the changing budget timetable?
Phillip Hammond announced in his 2016 autumn statement that 2017 would be the last year with a springtime budget. From now on, the chancellor will present the government’s budget in the autumn. This means there will be two budgets in 2017, to enable the move to the new timetable.
In last year’s autumn statement, Phillip Hammond said: “No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year, and neither should we.
“If unexpected changes in the economy require it, then I will, of course, announce actions at the Spring Statement, but I won’t make significant changes twice a year just for the sake of it.”
This change will simplify the UK’s economic system. Currently, the government can propose fiscal policy changes in both the spring budget and autumn statement. Creating a single annual economic event in the autumn will allow greater stability and certainty for UK citizens.
The government will still present a second annual financial forecast, delivered in the spring statement. However, this will cover long-term financial policy, and will avoid immediate fiscal changes, such as tax raises.
The change in budget timetable will also allow Parliament to implement legislation ahead of the tax year it applies to.
The future is 5G
It’s always positive to see political leaders giving serious consideration to tech.
However, we won’t be celebrating just yet. Implementing 5G in the UK is going to be a massive project. Considering there are areas of the country that are still without fibre broadband, we’re not expecting super-fast connectivity any time soon.