Fifth of all UK mobile connections will be 5G by 2023

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Investments made by the UK’s major mobile operators will see 5G account for one in five mobile connections by 2023, with users enjoying average speeds that are seven times faster than the current national average.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report predicts that although 4G will remain the dominant form of mobile connectivity with 43.9 per cent of the market, 5G will increase its share to 19.5 per cent over the period. In total, there will be 58.4 million mobile users in the UK , an increase from 56 million.

The average 5G speed will be 510Mbps, but the average across all connection types will treble to 55.1Mbps. This figure is obviously boosted by 5G but also through 4G upgrade programmes.

UK 5G speeds

Globally, Cisco says 5G will account for 11 per cent of all connections and deliver speeds 13 times faster than the average of 44Mbps across all technologies – a threefold increase. However operators will need to meet the capacity challenges of 5G, with 5G devices expected to generate up to three times the traffic when compared with their 4G counterparts.

The greater availability and variety of spectrum, coupled with the densification of networks, will be the key method of ensuring there is sufficient capacity. However Cisco say Wi-Fi will remain a complementary technology, boosted by the arrival of Wi-Fi 6.

The average broadband speed will more than double from 46Mbps to 110Mbps globally, and from 37.8Mbps to 93.4Mbps in the UK, thanks to the roll out of full fibre infrastructure. But the greater availability of Wi-Fi 6 will result in a surge in wireless speeds.

By 2023, 27.4 per cent of all end points will be Wi-Fi 6 and 11 per cent of all public hotspots will be compatible. This will see average Wi-Fi speeds rise from 30.3Mbps to 92Mbps, helping to deliver the full potential of this increase in broadband capability.

All of this will be music to the ears of telecoms operators looking to create converged services that combine fibre, wireless and cellular connectivity into a seamless experience.

“What we are seeing from our research is a continuous rise in internet users, devices, connections, and more demand on the network than we could have imagined,” said Roland Acra, Cisco CTO.

“The insights and knowledge gained by our Annual Internet Report are helping global service providers prepare their networks for the ongoing growth in connections, and envision the greatest opportunities to capitalize on their technology innovations and strategic investments.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.