As the UK starts to embrace 5G and the possibilities it unlocks, it is important to understand exactly what 5G is and how 5G is different from 4
There are so many differences between 5G and 4G, but here are a few of the most prominent.
The main difference between 5G and 4G is the speed. As you might expect, 5G is the fastest form of cellular connectivity available today, providing speeds far quicker than that of 4G. With 5G, users could theoretically see speeds up to 1Gbps, with the likely real-world speeds hovering between the 300-500mbps mark. This vastly contrasts with the 20-40mbps real-world speeds of 4G.
With such a high increase in speeds from 4G to 5G, there comes a world of possibilities. Whether you’re looking to use 5G as a replacement for your WiFi, or to setup a remote office, it’s a quick and simple solution to many people’s slow internet connectivity problems.
Latency, often known as ‘lag’ is another great improvement that comes with the advent of 5G. 4G typically has a latency of 10 - 50 milliseconds, depending on signal strength. However, using 5G means that you’ll benefit from latency of 1 millisecond or less. You don’t need me to tell you that less than a millisecond is quick.
The difference in latency between 4G and 5G means that you’ll see a considerable difference when browsing on 5G vs browsing on 4G. Normal websites will be super responsive and on-demand 4K video will become the norm as the low latency 5G creates a super fast cellular environment.
In 2019, the first wave of 5G masts were turned on in the UK. From Bristol to London, Cardiff and Birmingham, 5G zones were switched on and enabled users to connect and browse using 5G. However, the high cost to 5G masts and technologies has prohibited a UK-wide rollout. Of course, 4G has been around for long time, and currently has vast coverage of most of the UK.
5G is slowly being rolled out across the UK, increasing it’s availability means that more and more consumers and businesses will be able to take advantage of it’s immense power and speed. But for now, those outside of the largest cities will have to stick to 4G.
It might seem like an obvious difference, but 4G and 5G have some major differences in terms of their physical technology. Hardware such as modems, transceivers, masts and antennae are new, modern and expensive. With 4G as common as it is, the technology behind it has been refined over time, making it more and more cost effective.
5G will inevitably get to the stage that 4G is at, being widely accessible and low cost, but not for many years. As more and more mobile phone manufacturers put 5G modems into their devices, 5G will become increasingly available and more widely used.
5G is a great advancement in cellular and connectivity technology. But it’s not perfect yet. Unlike 4G, there are a few different variations of 5G wavelength. These wavelengths vary from low-band to millimetre wave. It sounds complicated, but I’ll break it down a bit.
- Low-band 5G is the slowest form of 5G, but can travel long distances. Low-band 5G is similar to 4G.
- Mid-band 5G is a slightly faster form of 5G. Mid-band is the most common type of 5G transmission as it provides relatively high speeds, and can cover a medium size area with minimal masts.
- By far the fastest form of 5G is millimetre wave. Millimetre wave can achieve speeds up to 1Gbps, but the rollout of the technology will be slow and costly. This is because millimetre wave requires line of sight to the device—which means that there will need to be 5G masts on every lamppost.
This is different from 4G. 4G has a smaller range of wavelengths when compared to 5G. Which means that it is not as versatile, but was cheaper for the mobile operators to rollout. A common approach is to rollout the mid-band 5G in wider city areas, with a few millimetre wave spots in the city centres.
We all know how useful 4G is to our everyday lives. From streaming to browsing, video calls and more. 4G’s vast UK coverage has meant that many applications have become possible, and 5G will further those applications.
A great example of an application that will benefit from 5G is the internet of things or ‘IoT’. The IoT connects smart devices across the world, enabling a smarter and more efficient working environment.
5G also provides a better internet connection than 4G. This internet connection could be used as a fixed line alternative. Instead of having a physical fibre broadband line to your house of business, you could theoretically use a 5G router to connect your devices.
As you can see, there are a lot of differences between 4G and 5G, from the speed and availability to the latency and technology. As 5G is rolled out across the UK, businesses and consumers are taking advantage of its immense speed and better connectivity.