5G networks offer download speeds ten times faster than 4G, with greater reliability and will be rolled out this year in Liverpool and Manchester – but not Warrington. Tony McDonough reports
This year 5G mobile connectivity will be rolled out in 16 “pathfinder” cities, including Liverpool and Manchester. But Warrington is not on the list and one of its leading business voices says the decision “makes no sense”.
5G networks offer download speeds ten times faster than 4G, with greater reliability. Consumers should, in theory, be able to download an UltraHD movie in about 20 seconds. Such speeds are hugely attractive to technology businesses.
And Steve Park, managing director of Warrington & Co, the town’s economic development agency, says the business profile of the area make it an ideal place to roll out 5G.
He explained: “We have one of the largest clusters of advanced manufacturing and associated research businesses in the UK and a hugely innovative tech cluster at The Base driving forward the Industry 4.0 agenda.
“It makes no sense to miss out such a dynamic economy, particularly given its growth rates. We plan to discuss with the network operators how they can bring forward their 5G coverage, particularly given that we border two of the main pathfinder cities, Liverpool and Manchester.”
Latest government figures, published in January by the Office for National Statistics, put Warrington at the heart of a £31bn economy that is growing faster than any other in the UK.
“It’s this combination of scale and growth that should make the business case stack up,” added Mr Park. He says The Base business centre has installed super-fast broadband networks in to the building offering speeds of 1 gigabyte per second in the meantime.
“This is incredibly fast, but 5G is capable of delivering speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second and for our tenants at The Base, whose data crunching requirements can be quite staggering, this is obviously hugely appealing. We want a piece of the action – and sooner rather than later,” he said.
He adds that one of the major benefits of 5G connectivity is the impact on health services and manufacturing. He explained: “We’ve seen in trials in the Midlands that paramedics can connect directly to specialists on the go with no interruption to service enabling remote input to life-saving treatment, so of course we’re impatient for that.
“5G can be a game-changer for our manufacturers, too. They are adjusting to what is called Industry 4.0, which is the streamlining of manufacturing processes through the application of technology and we have companies here in The Base growing strongly by providing them with the necessary software support.
“The ability to manage complex automated processes faster and more reliably via 5G would provide a huge boost to Warrington’s productivity and competitiveness.”