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August 15, 2017

Britain’s Digital Age: The technology creating a mobile revolution

Technology constantly develops at a quicker pace than ever before, helping connect the UK on a new level. From 5G to underground Wi-Fi expect it all in the UK's bid to strengthen its position in the digital economy.

By April Slattery

Private and public moves to strengthen the UK’s position in the digital economy couldn’t be happening at a better time as technology develops rapidly to better connect the UK population.

Wherever people are, it’s a guarantee that a smartphone, laptop, tablet or other device will go with them. It seems the population can’t go five minutes without checking social media, emails or text messages.

At the fear of missing out – FOMO – as it’s referred to today, the demand for a quick and efficient broadband or mobile network is essential to the population’s ‘needs’.

CBR takes the chance to look at the developments digital users can expect to see to become better connected in the coming years as technology develops in the blink of an eye.

4G/5G

Outlined in the Government’s Autumn Statement last November, a total of £1bn will be invested into digital communications by 2020-21. A total of £400m of the investment will be ploughed into digital infrastructure.

Britain’s Digital Age: The technology creating a mobile revolution

Users can connect to the world wherever, whenever with new mobile networks.

Currently, around 90% of the UK is considered to have strong 4G coverage and the Government plans to boost that to 98% by the end of the year to ensure as many parts of the UK have the best coverage possible.

In addition to ensuring 4G coverage is across the entire UK, 5G coverage is also on the way.  5G network coverage is a wireless connection built specifically to give devices a faster and more reliable connection -it’s basically a bigger and better 4G.

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The government says that £16m will be invested into a UK 5G network in the form of an innovation hub. The target aims to begin 5G coverage by 2020. Compared to 4G, which has a download speed of 100Mbps, 5G networks are estimated to have a download speed 1000 times faster, reaching 1-10Gbps. This will allow users to download, stream and send data at a much quicker speed than on current networks.

Underground Wi-Fi

Underground journeys are such a burden when passengers want to browse social media, text friends or respond to emails because the lack of network restricts what they can do.

Back in 2012, Virgin Media teamed up with London Underground to trial out Wi-Fi hot spots in many train and underground stations across London. After the success of the trial, it was then installed at 138 London Transport stations. EE were next to install Wi-Fi at underground stations, to ensure passengers remained connected to the world even when they were hundreds of feet beneath the surface.

Yes, having Wi-Fi on the platform is very handy and even better when stopping at each station you can quickly pick up the signal to send a text or check an email but what would be even better is if Wi-Fi extended right along the line.

Read More: London Mayor Sadiq Khan to stamp out ‘not-spots’ in digital connectivity plans

Now it will! Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, revealed plans to better connect the UK users so commuters can expect soon expect to see underground Wi-Fi across the stretch of the line by 2019. This will allow Londoners to be able to freely access web data and make calls on tube trains.

The first lines to trial the underground Wi-Fi service will be the Waterloo & City lines. However, passengers set to travel on the newly built Elizabethan Line, will have full mobile coverage when it launches in December next year.

The plans hope to help keep friends and families connected through all parts of their journeys, but also businessmen and women. By ensuring connectivity across the line, busy business workers can keep in contact with colleagues on the go especially when enduring long journeys, making sure they never miss anything important whilst out of the office!

Fibre Broadband

Data taken from over 63m broadband speed tests around the world, found the UK placed outside the Top 30 for Global Broadband speeds.  Across the UK 90% already has superfast broadband, with 600,000 more properties to benefit by 2020.

After BT and Openreach went their separate ways, BT bid to help fund the Government’s new digital proposal.

Read More: BT makes £600m universal broadband proposal

Proposals made by BT aim to cover households across the UK with a high standard of broadband a minimum speed of 10mbps by 2022. Currently 1.4m households cannot access any speed above this.

£700m is expected to be invested to support the market and fulfil the connectivity promises across the UK.

Sadiq Khan is targeting London areas to ensure they have a boost in connectivity in the poorer connected areas, working alongside local authorities to deliver solutions to improve the area connection.

Wi-Fi

The majority of the world offers free Wi-Fi to ensure users stay connected wherever they are. Obviously, the primary reason we connect to Wi-Fi is to keep up to date with our social media etc. but there’s also another brilliant use for Wi-Fi – calling.

EE network set up Wi-Fi in April 2015, which allowed customers to make and receive phone calls and SMS messages over wireless networks as they would on mobile coverage.

Britain’s Digital Age: The technology creating a mobile revolution

Wi-Fi access is everywhere from home to underground.

A perk of Wi-Fi calling is that if you have no mobile phone coverage, but do have Wi-Fi, you’ll still be able to make calls as well as send messages.

With the upcoming developments in Broadband and 4G you’d hope there won’t be as much need for Wi-Fi calling if network developments are put in place and boost connectivity across the UK.

As well as Wi-Fi calling, the Government promises to set up Wi-Fi access across new fleets of trains in transport developments. In particular, new bi-mode trains have come attached with the promise of giving customers the best travel experience with full mobile network coverage and Wi-Fi throughout the journey. Wouldn’t that be lovely!

All in all, it’s fair to say that the UK isn’t doing too bad a job in giving the population better connectivity across all platforms possible. Wherever users are, whatever users are doing, being connected is going to be a worry of the past. The future is set to feature a new age of technology, you won’t know what to try out first.

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