What is 5G and how is it better than 4G?

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The latest iPhone 12 models all offer 5G

5G finally seems to be taking off after an uncertain and somewhat slow start. Apple recently announced its latest 5G iPhone 12 models and other manufacturers have also launched new models, starting from just £200. But what is 5G and how is it different to current-generation 4G models? In this article, we explain all…..

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of wireless mobile connections, following the 4G networks currently used by smartphones across the globe.

As the name suggests, this is the fifth generation of network technology.

How fast is 5G?

There is no official speed standard for 5G, but many experts expect it to be up to 10 times faster than 4G – and therefore potentially faster than some home fibre broadband.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said: “5G is a next-gen network technology that should deliver speeds of up to 10Gbps – on paper, that’s considerably faster than 4G’s top-end speed of 300Mbps.

“In practice though, as we’ve seen with 4G, the speeds will likely be well below that, but real-world tests do show it’s still much quicker than its predecessor.

“Where you’ll see a real difference with 5G is in the speeds you can download Ultra HD and 3D video. At 5G’s theoretical top speed, you could download an entire 25GB Ultra HD movie in about 20 seconds.”

It will also be fast enough for growing applications including live casino settings. This will make the live casino experience more realistic, facilitating a much larger data flow and more advanced technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.  

Which networks have launched 5G in the UK?

EE was first to launch its 5G network – at the end of May 2019 – starting with six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester.

Vodafone followed, switching on 5G in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London on July 3. Three began turning on its 5G network in August and now O2 has begun its rollout.

The process will be a gradual rollout, meaning 5G will not be widely available everywhere for years to come.

How does 5G work?

5G is made up of unique radio frequencies that are broken up into bands. These frequencies are a lot higher than 4G, which means they can support a larger capacity.

Experts say this means more connected devices can be used at one time.

“5G tech also has the capacity to handle the surge in demand for bandwidth generated by the Internet of Things boom,” Mr Doku said.

“5G is considered a millimetre wave technology – with a shorter wavelength than 4G, it has a higher frequency, which gives it a higher bandwidth and consequently ability to handle more data.”

Experts have suggested one potential benefit could be the increased ability to operate data-heavy networks, such as those needed to power autonomous vehicles, in years to come.

EE was the first UK network to launch 5G 

How much does 5G cost?

So far, pricing has varied across networks, with costs higher than 4G on some networks given that it is a new technology.

However, some have launched with the promise of 5G data plans at the same price as existing 4G deals.

Experts have also noted that, as was seen with 4G’s maturation, prices are likely to fall as 5G becomes more widely available.

Verdict 

5G is the future. The technology isn’t just about increased speed but offers a whole new glimpse into the future, enabling the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and technologies such as augmented and virtual reality. 

It will also pave the way for a new industrial revolution (known as Industry 4.0) and the arrival of autonomous vehicles. Exciting times lie ahead.. 

 

Tech Digest Correspondent
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