By Mike Ianiri, Equinox.
Telecoms continues to be a hot topic that businesses need to keep their eye on. So, here are our thoughts on what entrepreneurs need to know about what the next few months hold for business phone lines, VoIP, broadband and mobile.
The UK lags behind other parts of the world, in terms of testing 5G, but it is happening. EE announced, late last year, the first six cities they would be launching in: London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester. As consumer equipment starts to appear in the shops (due in mid-late 2019), we will truly be able to see the difference between 4G & 5G.
How fast will 5G be?
The marketing hype around 5G grows daily. If the speed claims continue to grow at the rate the marketing teams tell us, we’ll be able to download whole box sets before we’ve even thought about doing it! Claims of early speeds of 5Gbps, and climbing, will need to be proven. Once the networks are live to consumers and they are being properly load-tested, we expect real-life performance results to be down on the claims.
- Huawei attained 970 Mbps at the beginning of 2018
- AT&T testsshowed on 194.9 Mbps download
- Qualcomm’s real-life simulationsdelivered up to 717Mbps
Although expectations are that there may only be about one million 5G handsets on the streets by the end of the year, it will be interesting to see what speeds they see.
Who will deliver first?
None of us can use 5G without a device. Every major handset manufacturer is developing something, but who will hit the shops first? Front runners are Huawei’s P30 and Samsung’s S10. February’s Mobile World Congress Event (25thto 28thFeb.) will give us all an indication of the answer to this question.
Increasing data consumption
Data consumption will continue to climb this, most likely at a faster rate than ever before. 2016 stats show 1.26Gb per user per month, climbing to 1.72Gb in 2017. Although we cannot find stats to prove this, we believe business users are consuming more data than consumers. For example, at the time of writing, I’ve consumed an average of 7.1Gb of data per month over the last three months.
With the increasing cyber security threat, the use of mobile data, as opposed to Wifi, will increase dramatically. With mobile data becoming cheaper and cheaper, public Wifi simply isn’t worth the risk.
There isn’t a telecoms company out there that doesn’t sell both mobile solutions and internet connectivity – and this will lead to a conundrum. For both consumers and SMEs, what products will these companies recommend? The investment that’s been made to install fibre, both FTTC and FTTP, is going to be threatened by 5G. For companies with high data requirements, the choice will still be a fixed line internet connection. But for small businesses with data needs; they will have a choice. For areas where high speed internet coverage is still poor, such as rural locations, out of town business parks and even some city centre areas, 5G will provide welcome relief to high cost copper-based solutions.
Will you give up your landline?
The number of homes in the UK with a landline has dropped by 3% in the last 5 years. A further 24% of households have a landline they never use. Many of these will simply be because their internet connection is cheaper when they take a landline from their internet provider.
The fact that most people’s mobile is usually within arm’s length, it is easier to use that device. Unlimited call contracts make it a no-brainer. Smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home and Apple’s Homepod, can connect to each other via the internet. You can talk to other devices in the same house (save’s shouting up the stairs when dinner is ready!) and elsewhere. Phoning your clients has never been easier.
With companies such as PwC removing landlines from all their UK offices, it is likely that the office landline will head in the same direction too.
Roaming charges may appear again, particularly if we leave the EU with no deal. Although the main mobile operators have said they have no current plans to change, that doesn’t mean it will be the same after March 29th. Planned government legislationsets a limit at £45 per month (unless you opt out) and a requirement for the operators to warn you before you go over your data usage allowance. Time will tell.
Many changes in telecoms have been happening slowly for the last few years, but they will accelerate significantly over the coming twelve months. In order to get the most from the cost-savings and opportunities these developments offer all entrepreneurs and business owners need to keep a close eye on developments in the telecoms sector.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Ianiri is Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk