UK mobile carrier Three switched on its 5G on Monday, but unlike other networks, it's not for mobile phone customers -- at first anyway. Instead, Three's 5G offering is based around home broadband provision, using fibre-like, ultrafast speeds to provide an alternative to traditional broadband services.
The buzz around 5G has so far focused on upgrading current 4G mobile networks, but the technology also promises far more. Faster, more stable, more efficient network speeds have the potential to holistically improve the internet as we know it, not to mention to enable the growth of new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and smart city infrastructure.
To get Three's 5G broadband, you'll need to order a plug-and-play broadband hub (same-day delivery is £20, next-day delivery is free), and sign up to £35 per month fixed 12 month that offers unlimited data.
"We've taken a simple approach with one single truly unlimited data plan to give customers the opportunity to fully explore 5G and all its exciting possibilities," CEO Three Dave Dyson said in a statement. "The ease and immediacy of it all means home broadband using 5G is going to be key to the future of the connected home."
According to analyst Ben Wood, Three is in "pole position" when it comes to its potential to be a 5G leader in the UK due to the large amount of spectrum it owns. "This is a first toe in the water for the 5G service and I guess we'll really find out what Three can offer when the wider 5G network is turned on and you can use it with a smartphone."
Three's 5G is only available in London right now, but will be rolling out to 25 cities by the end of the year. When 5G mobile coverage does arrive, Three customers will be able to upgrade to faster speeds at no extra cost, providing they have a 5G-enabled phone.
"With the most data hungry mobile customers in the UK, 5G can't come soon enough for Three from a capacity and performance perspective," Wood said. "This 5G broadband solution is a first step, but getting 5G handsets into its users' hands have to be the big focus going forward."