With 5G coverage becoming more widespread and the reliability of 5G equipment evermore dependable, is now the time for businesses to make the jump?
Here, we interview our Managing Director Kevin Boyle, and Technical Director Steve Bryant, to investigate.
5G at the Beginning
Despite all the fanfare that 5G attracted from press and industry at its inception, when the 5G infrastructure rollout began at the tail end of May 2019, it quickly became evident that accessibility and performance were an issue.
“At the initial launch, 5G attracted a lot of momentum, generating a lot of commercial interest, but the problem was, it was largely only being offered in urban areas, which excluded it as an option for many businesses” comments, Kevin.
“A second issue was the quality of the supporting equipment. There were a number of 5G consumer routers available on the market, but through extensive testing, we found they didn’t provide the level of functionality required to support a business grade service.”
At the time, 5G promised to deliver a peak download speed of 1Gbps; however, when conducting our own tests in areas such as London, Southampton, Bristol, and Bath, we experienced inconsistent and unreliable performances, ranging from 80-400Mbps.
“Through this testing, we decided at the time that the equipment and coverage wasn’t reliable enough to start deploying to our customers,” concludes Kevin.
Today, in 2022, 5G performance and availability have improved immensely.
Currently, 5G is available with one or more MNO, in over 100 UK towns and cities.
“With upgrades and improvements to 5G equipment, we have found that 5G performance is now much more stable too,” says Steve.
“Testing of new business-grade routers and antennas at the backend of 2021 produced great results – a 30% – 50% uplift in performance – giving us greater confidence that 5G was on its way to becoming a viable business solution. Further testing this year has just served to reinforce this opinion.”
“While availability is still predominantly in urban locations, 5G has become more accessible in some less populated areas too, such as on the edges of towns and cities.”
“Such is our confidence in 5G now, that we have begun deploying 5G solutions to our customers, and while there are still some growing pains, they are providing far better results and more stable performance than a year ago,” continues Bryant.
“That said, it’s certainly not ready for the masses, but for some businesses and individuals, a 5G connection is definitely a viable option, and work is continuing on expanding its availability to less populated and more rural areas,” concludes Steve.
What About 4G?
While 5G infrastructure and equipment has been finding its feet, developments in 4G technology have meant that for many, the service still represents a better solution.
“Although the 5G service has come on leaps and bounds, in many locations, 4G (LTE) and 4G+ (LTE-A) will still deliver better performance than 5G,” comments Steve.
With 4G+ now widely available across the UK, the service is still a key part of the country’s connectivity infrastructure.
“Upgrades to the 4G network and equipment have given improved performance almost across the board, and, at the moment, it is available in a far greater number of locations than 5G,” adds Kevin.
“These improvements will also likely continue, due to the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network programme, as well as continued investment from manufacturers and networks.”
“There’s no time pressure to switch to the 5G network anytime soon. 4G will be providing a stable service for millions across the UK for a long time yet,” concludes Kevin.
4G or 5G?
Ultimately, it will come down to customer needs, and perhaps most importantly, location.
“After an unsteady launch, 5G services are now more readily available and providing reliable connections. If you’re in a city or town and are looking for a reliable broadband connection, 5G could certainly be an option” comments Kevin.
Beyond the spheres of city centres and other urban areas, 5G may well not be the best choice.
“The developments in 4G LTE equipment and coverage have led to vastly improved performance,” says Steve.
“If you’re looking for a broadband option in a residential, suburban or even rural area, 4G LTE will likely provide a faster and more stable connection than 5G currently can.”
“Ultimately, we believe it will be a case-by-case decision. For our customers and clients, we’ll be considering their requirements and location and identifying the best solution for them,” concludes Steve.
How Cloudcell Can Help
At Cloudcell Technologies, we have a broad range of solutions, including 5G, that can act as either a backup or a primary broadband connection.
We understand that when it comes to connectivity, there’s not a one size fits all solution. Whether you’re looking for business broadband or personal, we choose the solution that best fits your requirements and location.
You can find out more about our solutions here.
You can also contact our friendly team by emailing email@example.com, or by calling us at 03330 049 444.