AI and 5G among top trends for UK networks in 2019

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Deloitte has named 5G connectivity and cloud AI as among the key tech trends for UK firms this year.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) for everyday activities and the introduction to the UK of 5G mobile networks will be among the biggest trends of the next few years in the UK, a new report has predicted.

Deloitte's annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications report for the UK suggested that while 5G will be the connectivity technology of the future, we can expect quite a shallow rollout over the next 12 to 24 months as users get to grips with what it can offer.

The company forecast that around 50,000 5G-enabled smartphones will be sold in the UK in 2019 – but this could climb to as many as three million by the end of 2020.

Deloitte highlighted three key use cases for 5G in the early stages of adoption. The first will be to offer faster mobile connectivity to devices such as smartphones, but it will also be used to connect 'less mobile' devices such as 5G modems or hotspots, which will then deliver 5G services to other devices via Wi-Fi.

Finally, the technology will be used in 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) devices, which will mainly be antennas permanently mounted on buildings to provide homes and businesses with broadband as an alternative to fixed-line networks. Deloitte expects at least two mobile operators to launch FWA offerings in 2019 and 2020.

When it comes to AI, the report noted that, until now, the biggest barrier to adoption has been that companies have lacked the expertise and resources to take full advantage of the technology.

However, this is set to change from 2019 as companies turn to cloud-based services to help close this gap. Deloitte forecast that 70 per cent of firms acquiring AI solutions will do so via the cloud, while 65 per cent will create their own AI applications using cloud-based development tools.

Deloitte said: "[Cloud] innovators are making it easier for more companies to benefit from AI technology even if they lack top technical talent, access to huge data sets and massive computing power.

"In short, the cloud is democratising access to AI by giving companies the ability to use it now."

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