The next generation of mobile network, 5G is an ultra-fast step up from 4G, capable of delivering exceptionally quick download speeds and opening up a whole world of possibilities in terms of smart technology.
But once you pick up a 5G-ready smartphone, will you still be able to receive the same service when roaming abroad? Discover how 5G works, what if you can use international roaming on 5G, right here.
What does data roaming mean?
Data roaming is a term used to describe using your mobile data outside of your network's standard coverage area. For example, if you want to use Facebook or search the web abroad, you'll have to make sure data roaming is enabled on your device.
Some mobile networks will allow you to use data roaming without additional charges - your usage will simply come out of your regular monthly data package. Others will charge an additional fee for access, particularly if you're going to be outside of the EU - it's best to check before you travel.
What exactly is 5G and how does it work?
The fifth generation of mobile network technology, 5G enables you to make calls, send messages and use any application or service that requires a mobile internet connection with unrivalled speed.
Just like 3G and 4G, 5G keeps you connected to the rest of the world. The key difference between 5G lies in its impressive capabilities which, to keeps things simple, is mostly down to 5G's ability to access higher frequencies.
All mobile networks operate by carrying information wirelessly through the electromagnetic spectrum, in particular the radio spectrum. There are a range of frequencies available within the radio spectrum, which are also known as bands. 5G is different because it can access much higher frequencies that exist in something known as the EHF band, and higher frequencies mean faster speeds.
The EHF band utilises a frequency range between 30GHz and 300GHz. It's thanks to this that 5G is capable of delivering faster internet browsing, quicker download speeds (up to 10GB per second), lower response times and can support more demanding, data-heavy applications.
Can I use 5G when roaming?
5G is fully capable of supporting data roaming. Whether you'll be able to use it abroad, however, will depend on a number of factors.
Firstly, you'll need a 5G-ready phone. It might be obvious, but without a 5G ready device, you won't be able to even use 5G in the UK. Once you have the right tech to hand, you'll then need to check if the mobile network you're with supports 5G and 5G roaming, and also offers coverage in the location you're travelling to.
As 5G is still fairly new, it will take time for this high-speed mobile network to be fully rolled out not only across the UK, but also across the world. Once wider 5G coverage is established, 5G data roaming should be just as easy as roaming on 4G.
Vodafone is the first UK network to announce support for 5G roaming. After the network's 5G launch on 3rd July 2019, 5G roaming will come shortly after over the summer and be initially available in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Vodafone is expected to expand its global 5G roaming service in the next few years, and other mobile networks are set to follow suit.