Following David Cameron’s announcement at CeBIT that the UK would strike a deal with Germany in order to deliver 5G network connectivity in the future, PCR asked a selection of independent retailers what they thought of the plans, and what implications the technology could have for retail…
Mike Hoffman, director of Drum Brae Solutions, commented that the move was ‘to much too soon’, explaining: "Broadband would be a good start – we have clients who struggle to get more than 0.5Mb."
Hedley Corcoran, sales director at Midland Computers, agreed, saying: “It’s lip service and over-promising again. I’m still waiting for FTTC.”
Matthew James of Eastgate Computers also weighed into the argument that focusing on a univeral roll-out of 4G networking would be preferable for the time being.
He told PCR: “I think it would be nice just to see 4G fully launched in all areas before we start looking that much further ahead – but I guess they rake in the cash from selling it to the mobile networks, so the government have to make more money somehow to stop more cutbacks etc…”
IJ Direct agreed, saying: “We are still in early stages of maturing the 4G network in the UK."
"None of the major networks in UK offer a full 4G network coverage around the country yet."
"While we are still realising the potential of 4G, we still do not know how a 5G network will act as a catalyst in the technology market."
Anthony Lay of AML Midlands added his belief that 4G speeds would be sufficient enough, and also criticised Cameron’s plan to invest £73 million the ‘Internet of Things’, saying: “£73 million is a waste of money at the moment. 4G speeds are pushing 95Mbps in Sweden – so why do we need to go faster within retail?"
"The High Street retail environment has completely changed. Stores need to be able to cater for online orders and foot traffic, but will always need to give that personal touch.”
Don Edward Wijesuriya of Microrays disagreed with Lay’s comments, however, stating: “[5G] will definitely boost the online market.”
However, Andrew Dennett of Axdra sees the increased cost of 5G networking as a barrier to mass adoption.
“Unless 5G is cheap enough, no one will care," he explained.
"Nobody I know goes out to buy a phone just because it has 4G.”
Vladimir Kuznetsov of Dino PC instead argued that as consumers use more and more data – including through adoption of the ‘Internet of Things’ devices Cameron also pledged his investment in – 5G would become a necessary upgrade.
"Investment in infrastructure is the key to the future of the internet," he said.
"As cloud computing becomes more prevalent the future will see a rise in bandwidth-hungry services, with most of the processing being carried out remotely in data centres."
"The ‘Internet of Things’ is relatively new and I can imagine many useful purposes for it in the future."
"It will also bring about a lot of economic benefit, as a raft of next-generation appliances and devices come into the market. More advanced ‘smart’ technology would require specialists to fit it, bringing about a demand for firms which specialise in selling and fitting this technology.”
"Overall it would make our lives easier and once this market grows we would see an economic benefit far greater than the initial investment the government is putting in.”
Matt Lawrence, director of ICT Connect, also commented on the benefits to a data-rich society: “The obvious effect [of 5G] is a reduced need to worry about bandwidth usage from application developers for smartphones and tablets."
"For the majority of us, we are connected online 24/7 and therefore speed is very important to us, although, the range of connectivity is more important to a degree – I would rather see a stable 5Mb 3G connection that stayed at that speed most places I travel rather than a 50Mb download in one place dropping to 0.5Mb 10 feet away."
"The knock-on effect of 5G is I think much more interesting: deployment of these kinds of speeds means that land-based broadband providers need to dramatically increase connectivity, especially in rural areas where speeds of under 2Mb are not uncommon."
"What this could cause is a move of some consumers from land-based broadband to data via 5G. Likewise, any speed improvement results in more data being transmitted as people do more work, watch more videos or listen to more music. Start watching videos over data in Full HD and your data usage increases on a massive scale."
"As we have seen in the past, usage drives network tariffs and pricing models and therefore the mobile operators need to be able to adapt to these changes. Providing a 2GB download limit on a monthly contract that you can burn through in an hour simply doesn’t work.”