2018 predictions: Strategic Partnerships spokesperson Scott Stonham

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Strategic Partnerships spokesperson Scott Stonham predicts 2018 will be a foundational year for 5G in the UK but far from commercial a launch

Mobile industry conversation this year will centre on anticipation of 5G, due to capacity and latency constraints that these mobile networks are expected to solve.

But will the UK see actual commercial rollouts of 5G in 2018? The straight answer is ‘no’, since it boils down to the spectrum debate currently raging between the UK telecom regulatory authority, Ofcom, and the operators.

While we will see numerous 5G trials throughout the year from both vendors and operators, 2018 will be a foundational year for 5G. Video services will continue to drive data growth and operators will continue to invest in enhancing their 4G LTE networks, adding capacity, improving performance and testing new markets.

In the second half of 2017 we clocked a broad spread of median download speeds, ranging from a low of 6.3Mbps from O2 in Manchester to a high of 38.4Mbps from Vodafone in Liverpool; as 4G capacity and coverage increases, this will trend upwards.

Machine learning deployment across the network will continue to evolve, adding features and helping manage cost, efficiency and complexity. On the back of this we will see operators introduce new enterprise offerings and launch more Internet of Things services using both cellular and non-cellular technologies, setting the stage for commercial deployment of 5G in 2019 and beyond.

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