Barclays offers a unique Insight into the future of 5G.

8 December 2016

barclays 5G

Barclays has offered an ‘Insight’ piece on 5G, which amounts to a neat infographic-assisted summary of the next-generation mobile network standard and what it will mean in practical terms.

It’s well worth taking some time to extract the key details from this appraisal. But first, let’s tackle the question we suspect many people will be asking.

What does a high street bank know about 5G?

Most of us know Barclays as one of the big British high street banks, so it might not be immediately apparent why it would wish to comment on the future of telecommunications - nor why we should choose to listen.

However, Barclays isn’t simply a high street bank. It is a universal bank, which means that it offers a comprehensive range of financial services. One of those distinct services is investment banking, and this is the department responsible for issuing these Barclays Insights.

The bank conducts exhaustive research using “macroeconomic market experts and analysts” in order to be able to advise on investment matters. As such, when it takes a view on important future technology standards such as 5G, it’s well worth listening to. You can bet that millions of pounds will be exchanged based on its conclusions.

Here, then, is what Barclays has to say about 5G.

5G will empower the cloud

Interestingly, Barclays first focuses on the massive advance in cloud computing that will be enabled by 5G. There will be a fundamental shift from relying on dedicated equipment to software that sits on regular servers.

Right now, the vast majority of processing tasks occur locally on dedicated computer devices. When 5G has been fully implemented, mobile data speeds will be so high (1,000 times faster than 4G) and latency so low (100 times lower than 4G) that many such tasks will be able to be conducted in real time on central servers.

This will mean that companies and individual need to invest less in expensive digital equipment, with the bulk of the heavy digital lifting done remotely and beamed instantly over 5G to ostensibly ‘dumber’ devices.

Device explosion

Barclays refers to a Cisco report that claims that there will be a massive increase in connected devices by 2020. This is around the time that 5G is anticipated to arrive.

There are 15 billion connected devices in use today, but this number will climb to 50 billion over the next three to four years.

This explosion in devices will stem from the full realisation of the Internet of Things, which will see a vast 5G-powered network of low-powered devices - from traffic lights to security cameras to automated cars - joining the smart device revolution.

Dynamic traffic management

Such a massive climb in the number of connected devices will naturally lead to a similarly exponential increase in mobile data usage. Barclays again refers to the Cisco report when it points out that “Over the next 5 years, global mobile data traffic is expected to increase by 827%”.

Fortunately, as well as offering significantly greater bandwidth to help facilitate this increase, 5G will be much smarter and more flexible when it comes to managing data traffic. Barclays points out that each device and network connected via 5G “will use exactly the amount of bandwidth it needs when it needs it”.

5G won’t just be more powerful - it will also be more efficient.

Useful reading: What is 5G by

5G means more and smaller cells

5G will use high-band spectrum - which is much more capacious and less congested than the current low-band spectrum used by 4G - to deliver this boost in performance.

However, data transmitted over high-band spectrum doesn’t travel as far as on low-band spectrum. This means that 5G will require a number of smaller cell sites as opposed to 4G’s fewer large cell sites.

Once 5G is established, we will generally find ourselves far closer to our nearest 5G cell site - or rather, sites - than we are currently to our nearest 4G site, though they should prove much less noticable.

Spelling out the 5G opportunities

As we mentioned at the outset, Barclays assembles its Insights as a means of investment advice. By way of a conclusion, then, the bank spells out six “potential opportunities” when it comes to 5G.

1.Autonomous cars

5G’s low latency and improved reliability will enable self-driven cars to communicate with one another and various ‘smart city’ systems for improved navigation and safety.

2.Critical Control of Remote Devices

Related to that last point, 5G’s low latency will enable a new level of remote device management in areas such as public safety.

3.Industrial Automation

The future of manufacturing, according to Barclays, is a factory full of robots all able to be monitored and controlled remotely in real time through 5G.


Possibly the most terrifying application of 5G’s latency-free connectivity: robotic surgery.

5.Virtual Reality

Real time connectivity means that virtual and augmented reality will be more responsive and useful - imagine an AR headset beaming traffic and routing updates right in front of your face, as they happen.

6.Wireless Broadband

Barclays points out that 5G will soon be used as an option for ‘last mile’ broadband access rather than direct cables, potentially causing less disruption and saving money in the wiring up of houses.

READ : The Barclays article here.

Technical Writer at

Jon has nine years experience of writing and editing copy for leading publications, as well as attending technology shows and events and conducting interviews. Currently working with, TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, T3, Digital Spy, What Mobile, Pocket Gamer, and The Gadget Show.

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