The fifth generation of mobile technology

14th July 2022
Sheryl Miles

Festivals, or any large event, inevitably attract substantial numbers of people, all of whom are crowded into relatively small and often remote areas.

This crowding is likely to slow mobile reception down dramatically, or lose it altogether, leaving the end user struggling to make a call or send a message, let alone being able to stream photos or videos.

However, if 5G lives up to the hype, these problems could become a thing of the past.

As peoples need for better coverage, more options, and quicker times evolves, so must the technology that supports it. But what is it that makes 5G any better than its predecessor?

Over the last forty years, mobile technology has morphed from a wireless telephone into something more – it has become a workspace and a social hub.

Now that the world is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have been able to lift their once mandatory restrictions, meaning people are free to roam, and to attend events and festivals in person. Which means huge crowds in small areas once more.

Mobile communications work because service providers own blocks of radio frequency that the wireless signals travel over, this is called spectrum. When these blocks are added together it creates the providers total network capacity. The signals are then beamed over an area and a wireless device picks up their signal.

Where 5G differs is rather than the signal beaming over an area, it targets a specific device allowing the coverage to be more precise. It creates this by using something called Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology.

The end user will have improved speed, bandwidth, and network coverage with less delays – meaning their devices will operate closer to real time, so more people can be online at the same time without impacting on speed or signal.

Mobile operator EE announced in May 2022 its expectation for mobile phone data usage at Glastonbury 2022 to double from the 103.6TB used in 2019, to 200TB.

This year’s festival is considered the best-connected year yet, and to help festival goers have seamless connection EE erected seven temporary masts, in addition to their two permanent ones, to enable people to stay in touch throughout the weekend, without interruption.

EE isn’t the only mobile provider looking to improve signal in the area. Three put in a planning application in 2021 to replace a 12.5m mast with a 20m one, less than 10 miles away from the Glastonbury Festival site. However, the proposal was met with local objections and the application was withdrawn.

The world of football is also joining the 5G fold, as a partnership between Ericsson and Ooredoo Qatar sees 5G being introduced into eight stadiums across six countries for the World Cup ‘22.

Furthermore, a report by Viavi Solutions on ‘The State of 5G’ has confirmed that as of the end of January 2022 72 countries had 5G networks in place. The two largest economies, China and the US, having the most 5G enabled cities with 661 connected cities between them.

Better coverage, better safety

Because 5G enabled phones will pick up a beam directly it means that they should be able to get a signal anywhere, which will help improve personal safety at an event or festival as you’ll never be out of touch with people – so if you need it, you can always call for help.

The improved signal isn’t the only advantage of 5G at festivals. It can also be paired with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) wrist bands to allow for rapid entry into festivals, as well as AR and VR for an enhanced user experience.

So long as you have a 5G enabled phone, all signs point to it being an improved user experience, especially for heavy-duty phone users. However, until 5G can realise its own infrastructure without having to use 4Gs network, then for most of us 4G is probably sufficient – at least for now.

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