How 5G coverage is changing in 2024

Author: Sonia Older  |  Date published: May, 20, 2024, UK  |  Read est: 6 min read

In the ever-evolving world of technology, staying connected is crucial. Enter 5G for business – the fifth generation of mobile networks that's here to transform the way we work. But what is 5G? It’s a game-changer, and its coverage is improving at lightning speed. For businesses, this means enhanced productivity and seamless connectivity, no matter where employees or customers are based. Reliability is key, and 5G broadband can provide that rock-solid connection you need.

What is 5G and when was it introduced?

5G, short for the 5th generation mobile network, represents a leap forward in mobile technology. All four major UK mobile networks have launched 5G services, and tech firms are rolling out 5G-ready devices faster than you can say "upgrade". Although 5G deployments started in 2018 in the USA, the real rollout began in 2019, bringing 5G phones and services to many European cities. This technology promises higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience for everyone.

The secret behind 5G’s prowess lies in its use of smaller wavelengths and higher frequencies. This allows for far more simultaneous connections than 4G, meaning you can stay connected even in crowded places like football matches, concerts, or busy city centres.

Mobile phone with a 5G connection shown in the top right

What is the difference in speed between 4G and 5G?

Remember the days of 3G and 4G when social media and video streaming took off? 5G is here to take things to the next level. While top 4G download speeds range from 50 to 180 Mbps, 5G download speeds can peak at 250 Mbps. And that’s just the beginning. In optimal conditions, 5G speeds can soar to a staggering 20Gbps, up to 100 times faster than 4G. This is the kind of performance needed for our increasingly connected society, where average download speeds are currently up to six times faster than 4G and twenty-five times faster than 3G.

2024 5G updates and coverage

As of September last year, between 85% to 93% of UK premises could access 5G coverage outdoors from at least one operator[1]. This significant milestone indicates the rapid expansion and growing availability of 5G networks across the country. However, the journey towards complete 5G coverage is far from over. The UK government has set an ambitious target: by 2030, all populated areas, including rural communities, should have standalone 5G coverage. This means that even the most remote areas will eventually benefit from this next-generation technology.

Investment in 5G infrastructure

Telecom companies are making substantial investments to pave the way for widespread 5G adoption. By 2025, it is expected that up to $275 billion will be invested in 5G infrastructure globally.[2] This massive financial commitment underscores the industry's confidence in the transformative potential of 5G technology. These investments will fund the construction of new 5G towers, the upgrading of existing infrastructure, and the development of advanced technologies to support faster, more reliable 5G internet.

Coverage improvements and challenges

Every year, 5G coverage in the UK continues to improve. The major telecom providers are pushing to extend their 5G networks, with a particular focus on urban areas initially. However, rural areas present a unique set of challenges. Due to the higher frequencies used by 5G, more towers are needed to ensure consistent coverage. This makes it more difficult to achieve comprehensive 5G coverage in sparsely populated regions.

The path forward

Despite these hurdles, progress is being made. The big providers are dedicated to expanding their networks, with innovative solutions being explored to overcome the coverage gaps. For instance, partnerships between telecom companies and local governments are helping to facilitate the rollout of 5G in underserved areas. Additionally, advancements in technology, such as small cell deployments and satellite-based 5G, are being leveraged to enhance coverage and capacity.

Real-world impact

As 5G coverage continues to expand, the real-world impact on businesses and consumers alike will become increasingly evident. For businesses, improved 5G coverage means better connectivity for remote workers, more reliable communications, and the ability to leverage cutting-edge technologies like IoT and AI. For consumers, it means faster download speeds, lower latency, and a more seamless online experience.

Overcoming the 'chicken and egg problem'

One of the key challenges in expanding 5G coverage is the so-called 'chicken and egg problem.' Mobile operators need to see a clear demand for 5G services to justify their investment in infrastructure. However, potential users remain hesitant, unsure about the costs and benefits of adopting 5G without concrete evidence of its advantages. This creates a cycle of uncertainty and delayed progress.

How businesses can use 5G

The advent of 5G technology opens up a world of possibilities for businesses, promising faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connections. Here's how 5G can revolutionise various aspects of business operations:

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to explode with the widespread adoption of 5G. This technology allows a multitude of devices to connect to the internet simultaneously, from sensors in manufacturing plants to smart office equipment. Businesses can collect and analyse vast amounts of data in real-time, leading to more informed decision-making and operational efficiencies.

Remote working

The shift towards remote working has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 5G is set to make this transition smoother and more efficient. With 5G, employees working from home can experience high-speed internet comparable to what they would get in the office, ensuring seamless connectivity for video calls, collaboration tools, and cloud-based applications.

Staying online while travelling

For business professionals on the move, staying connected is crucial. Whether travelling across the country or internationally, 5G ensures that downtime is minimised. With faster download speeds and lower latency, employees can work effectively from anywhere, keeping in touch with the office and clients without the frustration of slow or unreliable connections.

Enhanced customer experiences

5G can transform how businesses interact with their customers, offering more immersive and responsive experiences. For instance:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Retailers can offer virtual try-ons, real estate agents can provide virtual tours, and car dealerships can showcase virtual test drives.
  • Interactive Marketing: 5G enables more interactive and engaging marketing campaigns, such as live events, real-time polls, and augmented reality advertisements.

Automation and AI

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are set to benefit immensely from 5G. With its high speed and low latency, 5G can support complex AI algorithms and automation processes, enabling businesses to automate repetitive tasks, analyse large data sets, and make real-time decisions.

Improved supply chain management

The logistics and supply chain industry can greatly benefit from 5G technology. Real-time tracking of goods, vehicles, and shipments becomes more precise, helping businesses to streamline their supply chains and reduce costs. Features include:

  • Real-time data: Enhanced tracking and monitoring of shipments, ensuring timely deliveries and reducing losses.
  • Predictive analytics: Using real-time data to predict and mitigate potential disruptions in the supply chain.

Starting your 5G journey with Focus Group

At Focus Group, we specialise in helping businesses harness the power of 5G sims and other technologies to not only run seamlessly, but also join up the rest of their technology. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current systems or embark on a new digital journey, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Ready to experience the future with 5G for business? Let’s get started today!

Sonia Older photo

Sonia Older
Brand & Campaign Manager

Sonia Older is the Campaign Manager at Focus Group and a highly experienced copywriter. She boasts over 20 years of experience in content marketing and PR across multiple industries, and is the key driver of content and PR for Focus Group across all UK offices. Away from work, Sonia usually swaps keyboard strokes for ski slopes in the Alps with her family.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, exclusive offers and top tips on tech