CES 2019 marks the dawn of 5G mobile phone technology

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(Martyn Landi/PA)
(Martyn Landi/PA)

This year’s technology trade show, CES, has been described as the start of the 5G era of mobile technology.

The next-generation mobile network technology is expected to bring connectivity speeds vastly faster than existing 4G networks and is currently being tested by multiple firms around the world – including EE and Vodafone in the UK.

At CES, the technology is being touted by hundreds of firms as the means to transfer data quickly enough to power the next generation of gadgets – including robots and driverless cars.

Speaking on stage at the convention in Las Vegas, Michael Kassan, chief executive of digital strategy advisory firm MediaLink said: “CES 2019 is, for all intents and purposes, the dawn of 5G.”

In its press conference at the event, technology giant Samsung teased its first 5G-enabled smartphone, confirming it will be announced this year.

Other firms, including chipmaker Qualcomm and Intel are also demonstrating early versions of 5G devices at the convention.

In the UK, EE and Vodafone are both running trials of the technology, with EE confirming last year it plans to launch 5G in 16 UK cities in 2019.

CES is the largest trade show for the technology industry and is expected to draw more than 180,000 visitors before it closes on Friday.

Gary Shapiro, president of the show’s organiser the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), said: “CES embodies the innovative spirit that defines the consumer technology industry – and the products and services launching here this week will empower citizens around the globe and change our world for the better.

“The entire technology ecosystem is gathered at CES 2019, with the latest in 5G, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart cities, sports tech, 8K video technology, robotics and more.

“With every major and emerging industry here at the show, CES 2019 is truly the global hub for innovation.”

However, the event has not been without controversy after a female sex toy firm claimed it was stripped of an award in a move it called “gender bias”. Lora DiCarlo said its Ose Massager won an Innovation Award but was then stripped of it, with the CTA citing it did not fall into any suitable product categories.

The firm’s boss Lora Haddock pointed to virtual reality porn being on show at the event and previous criticism of the show’s lack of female speakers as signs of “demonstrable issues with diversity”.


What will 5G offer?

Faster download speeds and more reliable connections are just some of the benefits mobile users should expect once 5G networks begin to take shape.

The next generation of mobile internet connectivity is widely anticipated to begin rolling out later this year and is set to bring with it new powers for smartphone users.

With download speeds likely to increase significantly compared with current generation 4G, a high-definition film could be downloaded in a matter of seconds over 5G, with a music album downloading as quickly as single songs do today.

Alongside the ability to send and receive data more quickly, 5G networks are also expected to be able to handle greater quantities of data, meaning smart devices getting smarter and able to carry out more complex tasks.

Users will be able to play more graphic-intense games on their mobile devices at a higher frame rate and with less lag, for example, or be able to ask a virtual assistant a question while streaming a TV show at the same time.

Once fully rolled out, it is believed that network coverage will also be more reliable and run at a capacity more commonly associated with fibre broadband today.

Trials of the technology are already under way in the UK, with the first networks, initially focused in towns and cities, due to begin rolling out later this year.

Chris Price
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