John Lillistone, technology director at Arqiva, talks about his expectations for the UK’s telecoms sector in 2019

“The emergence of 5G connectivity has been spoken about for a good few years now, but what we can say with great confidence is that 2019 will be the year we finally see 5G!

“However, this will realistically be on a restricted basis. As with the roll-out of 4G, 5G connectivity will involve thousands of upgrade projects across the country, and the availability of 5G-ready devices to warrant those infrastructure upgrades. So, this is likely to happen over a number of years rather than just the next 12 months. 

“Initially, we expect to see 5G in some of the major urban centres across the UK, where there is the population size and demand to warrant super-fast connectivity. This will be a very exciting event in 2019, but we must remain pragmatic for now. 

“Behind the scenes there will be a big focus on rural connectivity and getting the best possible service at the best possible cost. We expect to see great strides across the year, however it could require industry-level change if we are ever to achieve the kind of levels of service that we now expect in city centers.

“Another industry focus across the year will be the performance and availability of mobile services across transport networks. As the numbers of connected devices continue to soar year-by-year, there is particular frustrations around the ability to work or enjoy content on rail services. This is a very complex environment and the industry will invest a lot of resource over the next 12 months to finding a solution – it will perhaps be a little too soon as far as 2019 goes.”