5G mobile data will be so reliable and fast most homes will no longer need a separate home broadband connection, according to one of the companies planning to launch a UK service.
Three UK’s chief executive told BBC News there would be enough capacity on 5G to cope with demand, meaning households would be able to save money by ending their fixed-line contracts.
He predicts consumers will use 13 times as much mobile data in 2025 as today. However, one expert warned against “hype”.
Three has said it intends to launch its first 5G services in the UK as soon as the middle of next year.
Its announcement coincides with news from BT’s mobile division, EE, that it has switched on nine 5G trial sites in London.
Vodafone and Telefonica-owned O2 have also bought spectrum to launch 5G services of their own in the country.
In theory, 5G could offer download speeds of up to 10GBps or even 20GBps – although these are unlikely to be attained for many years if at all.
Most handsets are not yet capable of pushing 4G speeds to their limits, so UK networks are under pressure to convince the public of the need to upgrade having spent more than had been predicted on the spectrum auctioned to date.
As part of its pitch, Three is making the case that 5G will offer a “genuine alternative” to fixed-line copper and fibre services.
“Maybe not for the whole country, but certainly a significant majority of the country, I strongly believe 5G can offer a good enough home broadband experience for people to effectively ditch their copper [or fibre] connection,” said David Dyson, Three UK’s chief executive.
“The challenge in terms of why we can’t do that today is that the mobile networks don’t have the capacity with 3G or 4G. 5G changes all of that.”
Capacity refers to the amount of data that can be handled at any one time rather than the speed.
Three already provides a 4G-based “unlimited data” home broadband service in London, called Relish, which it acquired last year.
However, Mr Dyson said the business had to be careful how many people it signed up, to prevent its service degrading.
This, he said, would not be a problem with 5G.