Press release:

Launch of 5G set to cause industry excitement but risks worsening the UK’s digital divide

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “Vodafone’s 5G live date of July 3 will undoubtedly cause excitement within the telecoms industry as it appears to have won the race to launch the new technology in the UK.

“Faster speeds and better connectivity are always real draws for smartphone users and there is little doubt that 5G is a significant step forward for the telecoms industry.

“The reassuring factor, for now at least, is that 5G will cost the same as existing 4G tariffs. It would be surprising, however, if this were to continue to last, given the high expense of rolling out this new infrastructure – providers will be keen to cover their costs.

“There are, however, some concerns. With only those in major cities – seven initially, rising to 19 by the end of the year – set to benefit from the improved services, the 5G roll out looks likely to worsen the country’s digital divide. The launch areas already enjoy superior connectivity to much of the rest of the country, and concerns abound that 5G will not address issues like ‘not spots’, or at least not in the near future.

“We’ve been hearing about 5G from the industry for much of the past year, but the reality is that those words may not have been sinking in. uSwitch’s research only two weeks ago found that barely one in 20 consumers cares about this new technology, with better functionality and, crucially, price deemed far more important when buying a new handset.

“There’s a worrying complacency to the industry’s ‘if you build it, they will come’ attitude towards 5G as it is important for networks to take customers on this journey with them – something they have only just started to do.

“This should not come at the expense of those who are out of the loop or out of luck in terms of their location. While 5G’s arrival marks a significant step in mobile technology’s evolution, if people fail to get on board, or are at risk of being left behind, it could actually serve to worsen the industry’s existing issues of inequality.”

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