The Future of 5G in the UK: What to Expect in 2024

Last year the number of providers offering 5G service deployments surpassed 130,000 globally and the number of 5G subscriptions is now increasing by one million each day. Incredible numbers!  With the adoption of 5G we have, as a nation, the opportunity to provide unprecedented services to the public and pave the way for enhancing smart cities in the future.

in this week’s article we look at how 5G has developed recently, the benefits and what is coming up next in 2024.

Stand-alone 5G network – what is it?

You may have recently heard about 5G stand-alone (SA) but what is it exactly?

5G SA is a cellular infrastructure built specifically for 5G services by implementing 5G standards and protocols in the controller core and radio network. It is sometimes referred to as ‘true’ 5G, offering all the intended benefits of 5G whilst not being subject to the limitations of 4G LTE.  Most existing 5G networks are Non-Standalone (NSA), which means they’re partly reliant upon some of the slower and older 4G infrastructure.

Some of the benefits of 5G SA networks, due to being pure end-to-end 5G, are greater energy efficiency, better upload speeds, increased reliability and security, network slicing, and improved support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. 5G SA can support up to 1 million devices within a single square km, wow!!

What is network slicing?

Did someone say network slicing?  We have been hearing it mentioned a lot in the 5G world, and it is one of the benefits to 5G SA, but what does it mean?

In a nutshell, network slicing allows for multiple virtual network slices across the same physical network. This means that each slice is isolated from other network traffic to improve the reliability and performance of connectivity in certain situations, such as if there is congestion. The features of the slice can be tailored to your requirements, for example, enhancing your mobile broadband.

What is the latest 5G SA news from providers?

BT Group has confirmed that it will switch on its 5G SA network later this year whereas Virgin Media O2 and Vodaphone have already switched on their solutions in the UK. BT’s EE has not yet launched but may be able to do so in the second half of 2024.

Are there big wins for business using 5G SA? has reported that Vodafone claims that due to the slow roll-out of 5G SA, UK SMEs are currently missing out on up to £8.6 billion per year in productivity savings.  

For SME’s using technology to grow, the UK is currently on track to be the 5th most attractive place in Europe. This position could be improved with the opportunity to jump to 2nd place if the roll out of 5G stand-alone networks accelerates, and it could mean some big wins for our SME’s if it does! One of the industries that stands to benefit substantially is agriculture. Vodafone has said small agricultural businesses could see the average farmworker save over 3 working weeks of time by utilising 5G SA enabled technologies. Deploying quickly would lead to a collective saving of over 37.7 million working hours per year across the sector – incredible! Thus delivering £112 million in annual productivity saving.

Government Support of 5G

Back in September 2023 the government announced future proofing the UK’s mobile network connectivity with a £88 million R&D investment boost towards innovative connectivity. The investment in 19 UK 5G Open Network Projects will run until March 2025 and will initiate trials of open 5G networks across the country in the following areas:

  • Major urban centres in Bath, Cambridge, Glasgow, Liverpool, and the City of London. Seaside resorts Blackpool and Worthing will also be included.
  • Iconic sports and entertainment venues to include Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Shelsley Walsh motorsport venue, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, and the National eSport Arena.

It is hoped that this research/trial will help to make the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure in remote and hard to reach areas more efficient, sustainable, and cost effective. 

The Future

The future of 5G looks extremely positive and we look forward to seeing 5G stand-alone in full roll-out across the industry soon. For businesses who want to achieve the full benefits of 5G (of which there are many) then this will be a great option to consider and will contribute to huge savings where productivity is concerned.

Got questions?

If you have any questions about 5G or improving your telecommunications in your business, then please reach out to us by emailing or calling us on 0161 388 8188.