4G vs 5G

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The Big Difference

Now more than ever, this year, 5g phone sales penetration has exceeded 4G for the first time ever. It's clear that people are going to come into contact with 5G soon. So what's different?

It goes without saying that the main difference between 4G and 5G is speed! We're sure you don't need to be told that, but exactly how much quicker is it? Why do we need it? How much of a difference will that make to you tangibly?

Let's find out!

Why 5G?

When 4G came along, it was a direct upgrade to 3G and has now completely replaced it. 5G isn't quite like that, 5G technology seeks to add another layer to the already existing 4G network, specifically around the busiest parts of the busiest UK cities. If you're a townie and tend not to venture into highly populated areas you probably won't even notice anything different, but for a lot of people who live and work in busy cities, internet speeds are going to become a lot more reliable and quick.

How much quicker?

Take a look at the average speeds below

Average speeds (UK):

  • 4G - 25.9 Mbps
  • 5G - 133.5 Mbps

(Source: Statista)

As you can see above, a lot quicker! The difference isn't incremental by any means, you can expect average 5G speeds to be over 100Mbps 4G's average is around 8-10 megabits per second. In plain English, that means you can download a whole HD movie in 2-3 minutes, rather than 15 minutes as you would with 4G.

The latency in 5G areas drops from 30-40ms to as low as 10ms! Your phone will feel a lot quicker doing the daily tasks you'll need to do on it such as browsing the web, opening apps, streaming and sending videos. It'll all feel super snappy and instant. The near-instant connectivity makes 5G especially good for online games, and even things like augmented reality will become seamless and the latency will be imperceptible.

Downsides of 5G

It's not all better though, the trade-off from having all that speedy connectivity is reduced wireless range.

The big reason why 5G can have almost zero latency is due to the shorter wavelengths, called millimetre waves it uses. They're a lot shorter than the 4G waves, and consequently, we run into the following issue:

4G can carry data about 10 miles (16.0934 Kilometers)

5G, by comparison, has a range of 1000 feet (304.8 Metres)

That's not even 2% of 4G's range! To get get a reliable 5G signal over any substantial distance, there needs to be a lot of towers and antennas throughout cities, and we mean a LOT. To get decent city-wide coverage, it's not unreasonable to think of every lamppost and traffic light to have an antenna on top because even trees block out the 5G signal. Cabling every lampost and traffic light in London with fibre optic cables isn't cheap, so don't expect to be able to take full advantage of 5G in the country villages for at least a good few years.

They're not Competing technologies!

I'm sure after that last paragraph it's easy to see why 4G isn't going anywhere and why 5G is almost certainly never going to be able to be a standalone technology.

The best way to look at 5G is by seeing it as a superfast city-centre supplement to the 4G network. It eases congestion with its massive bandwidth, it's extremely fast but extremely short range.

For rest of the country, we have the serviceably quick, but much longer range 4G.

A bit like Usain Bolt and Mo Farah!

Are you able to Take Full Advantage of 5G?

As a business, the advantages of a 5G speed are enormous, but are you taking full advantage of it? By making sure you're with a trusted partner and planning ahead when the time comes, the transition will be a lot easier

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