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What does 5G actually mean for me and my phone?

What does 5G actually mean for me and my phone?
We've all heard that 5G networks are on the way, but what does that actually mean? And is it worth buying a 5G phone now? Ged investigates...

5G has been all over the news of late and is the star of those EE adverts with Kevin Bacon boasting about how great it is. But in reality, what does the roll out of 5G actually mean for consumers and businesses? Let me explain…

The overall aim of 5G is twofold:

  • To increase the coverage of mobile data
  • To increase the bandwidth (speed) of connections

The problem with these aims is that – to a certain extent – they conflict with each other. The frequencies that lend themselves to penetrating obstacles (such as buildings) and covering wide areas are limited in terms of the maximum speed they can achieve. Whilst, the frequencies that can provide super speeds are not particularly good at penetrating buildings and therefore don’t provide a large coverage area.

In order to try and address this issue, 5G technology will be served over multiple frequency bands to ensure that there will be a greater coverage across the UK. However, this means you will experience a greater disparity between the fastest and slowest speeds. Plus, for the speedy benefits of 5G to reach as many people as 4G and 3G currently can, lots more cell sites need to be installed. The installation of these sites is currently underway, so only a few cities can currently access it.

We have yet to see what the day-to-day experience of using 5G will be like as the rollout is still in its infancy. And, most current devices are not even equipped to take advantage of the technology. I have no doubt that in the coming years, there will be many benefits to the 5G network, but as to whether it will revolutionise our online experience? I think the jury is still out.

What’s our advice right now? We’d recommend waiting. You can buy 5G phones already, but it is a bit of a gamble whilst the proper infrastructure is installed. It could take a couple more years to get up to speed, by which time your phone will be two years old.  

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