Are you ready for 5G? This lightning-fast mobile network is set to launch in the UK in mid-2019. But what exactly does 5G have in store for us? And how does it differ from its predecessor, 4G?
You can find out everything you need to know about the fifth generation of mobile networks right here.
What's the difference between 4G and 5G?
The next step in mobile network technology, there are many differences between 4G and 5G, with the three major differences concerning speed, latency and capacity. As you'd expect, 5G is set to be superior in every way - but what exactly distinguishes the two technologies?
4G vs 5G Speed
By far the most notable and obvious difference between 4G and 5G is speed. 5G will be much faster than 4G, meaning you can download or stream media in next to no time at all.
A number of factors can affect the speed of both 4G and 5G, ranging from the location you're in to the network operator you're using. However, on average, 4G has a maximum download speed of 300Mbps while 5G is expected to achieve up to 10Gbps.
Downloading a standard-length Full HD film on 4G LTE-A is already fast, taking just 2.5 minutes, but using 5G it will be much faster. In fact, you can expect the entire movie on your smartphone in 4 - 40 seconds.
4G vs 5G Capacity and Latency
Mobile networks, be it 3G, 4G or 5G, use radio waves to successfully transfer data. 5G uses much higher frequencies than 4G, occupying the band of spectrum between 30 to 300GHz. Higher frequencies mean larger bandwidths, and larger bandwidths mean you'll be able to download data, stream media or run demanding applications with ease.
5G will really shine in high-traffic areas. If you've ever noticed 4G slowing down in busy locations, or that your device struggles to carry out data-heavy tasks, it's most likely down to low capacity issues.
Latency refers to the time taken for data to pass from one place to another. Even if you manage to download a movie in under a minute, a high latency (or lag time) means you'll have to wait longer to open up the file and watch it.
4G has a latency of 50 milliseconds, while 5G will have a latency of 1 millisecond - that's 50 times better than 4G.
When will 5G be available in the UK?
5G will be rolled out in the UK in stages across various locations. The first wave is expected by mid-2019, with further areas to follow.
Additionally, different mobile networks have different roll-out shedules. EE has confirmed that London, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester will be the first six cities to access the new technology. O2, meanwhile, revealed that its launch locations are Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
For Vodafone customers, 5G will initially arrive in the following areas: Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Guildford, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
As time goes on, the entire UK is expected to eventually receive 5G coverage. 4G won't be replaced completely, but it will be used significantly less (similar to the current status of 3G).
Which countries are moving to 5G?
Most nations are expected to see widespread 5G coverage in 2020 or later, with many following the same steps as the UK and introducing 5G in the second-half of 2019.
There are a handful of places, however, that have begun to implement 5G already. In America, networks like Verizon and AT&T have made 5G mobile services available to a selection of their customers in specific locations. Eventually, the entire country is expected to be 5G-ready.
South Korea has been at the forefront of the 5G movement, with the technology launching in late 2018. Residents have only been able to access it since April 2019, but it's set to advance quickly. By 2020, the South Korean government's Ministry of Science and ICT predict 30% of the country will have 5G, and 90% by 2026.
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