Telecoms firm EE is in the midst of its 4G roll-out, and predicts that 5G will not begin appearing commercially until at least 2020.
In a discussion about the future of mobile communications, EE said in five years’ time, it expects to see 12 times the amount of traffic it supports today.
Ed Ellis, responsible for network strategy and forecasting at EE, said applications such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer have changed the way people consume video, which is, in turn, adapting the way people use their mobile devices.
He predicted that as mobile networks become faster, residents in rural areas of the UK will prefer to use mobile networks for services such as video streaming, because in some cases they will be faster and more reliable than wired broadband.
“As mobile network performance increases, in some instances people are using that mobile connection to perform what a fixed line would have done previously,” said Ellis.
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EE’s forecasts for future data use suggested that 68% of non-video demand will be augmented reality or mobile gaming.
Despite these predictions and the successful growth of 4G, Andy Sutton, principal network architect for EE, said that if 5G is developed properly, 6G may never be needed.
“There are some very different requirements that we’re trying to converge onto a single network," he said. "The beauty of 5G will be the diversity of services and devices we can support.”