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Why 5G will mean the end of traffic jams and overflowing bins

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For weary commuters, it sounds too good to be true. But David Haywood says the 5G phone network will spell the end of motorway traffic jams.

Could 5G help ease congestion on our roads?

"You shouldn't ever get stuck in a traffic jam on the M6 again," he says.

Vodafone this week became the second mobile phone operator to turn on its 5G network, at a ceremony attended by Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

It follows hot on the heels of EE which launched its network in May, with O2 also expected to be on tap over the summer.

The new system promises connection speeds up to 100 times faster than the existing 4G network.

Lewis Hamilton at the launch of Vodafone's 5G network

But what does that mean in practice? Mr Haywood says it has the potential to transform almost every aspect of our lives.

"It's not just an evolution of 4G, it is a revolution," says the managing director of Shrewsbury-based Pure Telecom.

"Everything in your house will have a Sim card in it, and will be able to connect with your phone," he says.

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You may think the existing 4G speed is plenty quick enough for most of your everyday needs, but the extra firepower can make all the difference when it comes to moving large amounts of data, such as that needed to control the traffic flows on the M6.

"It will mean that the sensors will be able to control the traffic flow and the speed limits instantly, meaning that everything keeps moving," he says.

The technology for 'smart fridges' which helps us with our shopping by monitoring our eating habits is already around, but at the moment is very much a niche project.

But Mr Hayward says the extra capacity of the 5G network will bring that into the mainstream for millions of people.

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Lewis Hamilton at the launch of Vodafone's 5G network

There is the potential to link a 'smart fridge' with an online retailer so the stock is automatically replenished, although not everybody will want to do this.

"How you use it depends on what sort of service you ask for, but it certainly has the potential to help you with a shopping list by suggesting what you need to buy," he says.

The extra information and speed from the 5G network also has the potential to revolutionise something as basic as our bin collections.

"In future, our bins will be fitted with a Sim card which will be able to detect when the bins become full, so that the councils will know when to collect them," says Mr Hayward.

"Everything will be controlled by apps, your heating and your lighting."

Impact

One of the more controversial aspects is that it will also enable targeted advertising by profiling the members of the public.

"It can target you with specially tailored advertising the moment you come off a plane," says Mr Hayward.

Medicine and health care is another area where 5G could potentially have a huge impact, increasing efficiency by making information instantly available.

"You might, for instance, be able to have your blood pressure taken over the phone by pressing your thumb on the screen," he says.

Could overflowing bins be a thing of the past?

"Instead of waiting three months for the results of a blood test, you might be able to get them there and then."

Of course, those living in the more rural parts of this region will point out that their 4G coverage is patchy at best, and in many places non-existent.

Mr Hayward says while it would be naive to expect everybody to have access straight away, he does believe the roll-out will be quicker than has previously been the case.

Masts

EE's 5G network was initially launched in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, London and Manchester, and Vodafone's service is available in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Bristol. However, several smaller towns and cities, including Wolverhampton, are expected to be connected before the end of the year.

"The providers are in talks to share masts, which will make the roll-out much quicker," says Mr Haywood.

"That may sound like common sense, but there is a lot of politics to it with the different providers.

"To think that Shropshire will be top of the list, and will be getting it before the end of the year, is unfortunately not very likely, but I think it will be quicker than in the past."

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