Do you need a 5G mobile?
A quick guide to 5G and what it means for small businesses
5G is the next generation mobile network that promises faster connection speeds and greater reliability. EE was the first network to offer 5G, and Vodafone and Three have since followed suit. O2 will offer 5G from October.
Most networks have rolled out their coverage to the busiest parts of urban areas all over the country - London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh were all among the first locations to get access. But inevitably, coverage will be very patchy for years to come as each provider works on extending their reach.
At its unfiltered best, a 5G connection could offer download speeds up to 5-10 times quicker than 4G. That would mean downloading a film, without a Wi-Fi connection, in seconds. 5G will also have more carrying capacity, meaning more users can connect at once - a problem 4G has often contended with.
So, given all that potential, is it time to invest in a 5G-enabled mobile?
Bide your time
5G is hugely exciting, but its coverage is limited. It's widely estimated that 5G won't even begin to become a core part of our mobile network until 2022. Let's not forget that all the major mobile networks are still perfecting 4G, and even EE - the network with the widest coverage - only offers 4G to around 85% of the UK.
Meanwhile, only a few 5G-equipped mobile devices are available - and inevitably, they're all very expensive. They're also really big, not offering the choice of handset styles you'll see elsewhere.
So our advice for small business owners is pretty straightforward: don't rush into anything. If you're a tech fanatic or a niche business that relies on a superfast connection wherever you are, it might be that the high investment is justified. But for everyone else, it doesn't yet make sense.
Within a year or two, the picture will be completely different. Coverage will be better, handsets and contracts will be cheaper, and you'll have far more choice. For now, it's hard to see how the extra investment would pay off.
In with the old and out with the new
There has recently been an increase in the length of time that people are keeping mobile handsets for.
A few years ago, customers were upgrading every 2.3 years. Now, the average contract length is approaching 3 years. It's a significant rise, and suggests that mobile customers are getting savvier.
The truth is, upgraded handsets don't tend to offer the range of upgraded features that they used to. Most of us only utilise a fraction of all the incredible things our smartphones can do - and upgrading just doesn't seem as necessary. Then we recognise the cost saving potential of holding on to our phones for longer.
And for savvy business owners, choosing SIM-only contracts is often now the smartest option. That way, you get to keep your phone and number, and enjoy the cheapest mobile contracts on the market.
If you're an XLN customer looking to save on your business mobile contract, take a look at our customer-only, SIM-only offers - including a 5GB SIM with unlimited calls and texts for just £12 a month.