5 things you need to know about 5G

People using mobile phones

5G is now up and running in the UK. EE and Vodafone have both launched their fifth-generation mobile networks, Three will launch theirs in August, and O2 is set to join the party a month later.

Great! But wait - what exactly is 5G, and what will it mean for you? We've got an in-depth guide to 5G, with the full lowdown on the new tech and why it's so important. But if you'd prefer a quick and easy bluffer's guide, here's what you need to know.

1. 5G is fast

Think the 20-25Mb speeds of 4G are already pretty quick? How does 200-250Mb grab you? Typical 5G speeds are ten times faster than 4G right from day one. Find the perfect conditions and it can go way beyond even that, with Three claiming that their network will hit a potential 2Gb.

And it doesn't stop there. Industry experts reckon 5G could eventually deliver speeds up to a mind-blowing 20Gb.

What do the faster speeds mean? It'll improve everything you do online, from simple browsing to sharing huge files, it'll deliver instantaneous app downloads, and even allow you to watch Netflix in 4K on your daily commute.

2. It'll work in crowded places

5G fixes one of the biggest frustrations of 4G, its limited capacity. You'll know the signs: you try to use your phone in a crowded place and have to struggle along with a grindingly slow connection - if you get a connection at all. The network simply isn't equipped to handle the amount of traffic we're throwing at it.

The 5G network will enable two and a half times as many devices to be connected at once, and to download a whole lot more data while they're there. That means no more waiting around when you want to go online.

3. 5G will be great for broadband

The faster speeds and higher capacity are so important. They don't just mean that we'll get faster streaming and sharing on our smartphones, they will also completely revolutionise mobile broadband.

If you need a data connection on your laptop while you're on the road, you can expect more reliable performance, faster speeds, and - best of all - significantly higher data allowances. In time, 5G could even become a decent option for home broadband, especially in more remote areas where the existing fibre network is so poor.

4. You'll need new devices

Here's the bad news: your existing 4G-enabled phones, tablets, laptops, watches and dongles will not work on the 5G network. You'll have to replace them all. That includes your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and everything else.

The good news? There's no rush. There aren't many 5G devices right now, and they carry a price premium. Unless you're an early adopter itching to try it out, you can probably wait a couple of years before 5G gear is a must. And by then, devices will support it as standard anyway. Meanwhile, your 4G kit will continue to work just as well as it always has.

5. The rollout will take some time

So when will you be able to use 5G? It's available right now in major cities like London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. By the end of the year it'll be available in over 30 locations, from Bournemouth to Birkenhead, and then in over 50 places by the end of next year. Different networks will target different places, so you might need to switch.

But the rollout will take some time. Even areas that do have 5G won't have blanket coverage, and if you're in smaller town it might be two or three years before 5G arrives.

For more information on 5G, including how it works and why it'll be a complete game changer in so many other ways, take a look at our full 5G guide. Or, if you'd prefer, have a look at some of the best mobile broadband deals you can buy today.

Posted by Andy Betts on 2019-07-19 17:01 in News Features