As we have been fielding a lot of questions about the new 5G transmissions mentioned in the news, we thought a quick bit of info would be helpful!
5G or not 5G, that is the question!
(with my humblest apologies to Shakespeare)
There has been quite a bit of talk about 5G recently and if you are a bit confused as to what it actually is and what it means for you, you are not the only one! So firstly, for those of us living on the Sunshine Coast, 5G won’t be here for a while but it is coming eventually. Meanwhile it will roll out through the capital cities first (Telstra just started transmission in Melbourne), then in the metropolitan suburbs, so if you travel interstate or overseas or even just to Brisbane then it is relevant.
First I thought I would explain a bit of a layperson version of the background of 5G and I am going to start with 1G. To start with, the G stands for Generation and so far we have had 1st Generation, 2nd Generation, 3rd Generation and 4th Generation and we know these as 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G – the 5th Generation.
All of these Generations simply describe a method of transferring data to and from Mobile devices. So, in short, your mobile phone calls/voice calls are one part of the mobile service we pretty much take for granted and that method has not changed much. But 1G to 5G is the other part of the mobile service and it exclusively handles your mobile devices connection to the internet. And each Generation was designed to transfer larger and larger volumes of data faster and faster.
Why do we need 5G?
We now send and receive multiple high-resolution photos and videos over the mobile service and as the video streaming services like Netflix, Stan, and more recently, Kayo Sport, increase both usage and picture definition, the demand for higher speed mobile internet is rapidly increasing. Plus so many people are now using cloud back-ups of their photos and videos creating a further demand for speed when uploading and then for download when accessing them later. The promise of higher speed and larger volumes of data is appealing, but it is the low latency (the virtual absence of delay between giving a command and the device responding) that 5G is really all about. The low latency that 5G can provide is critical for robotic vehicle control, and it also will give us faster voice control and home automation.
How fast is 4G and 5G? What is the difference in speed?
Currently we use 3G and 4G on the Sunshine Coast for mobile internet. 3G is really only used now for light duty data transfers and as a backup if an area has weak 4G. Most of us now use 4G nearly all the time. While speeds vary from providers and locations the technology of 4G can handle up to a maximum of 1GB of data per second which would theoretically allow you to download a High Definition movie in 5 secs. But in real terms around the coast the general 4G speed is 30-40Mbps, which is equal or better than most people’s NBN speeds and definitely means no buffering (that annoying wheel going around) while watching Netflix. 5G is expected to provide a minimum of 100Mbps and a maximum speed around 10GB per second. Controlled tests have already achieved 2.1GB per second, which essentially means you can download the movie before you finish making your cup of tea!
Real world use comparison:
• 3G downloads an App in about 45-60secs
• 4G downloads an App in about 5-8 secs
• 5G downloads an App in less than a second
Just remember that higher download speed also requires higher upload speed from whichever site you are downloading from – and the devices you use also have to be capable of the higher speeds to get the full benefit.
When do I need to worry about it?
If you are an Apple user the first Apple 5G phones will come out sometime in 2020. For Android users there is a Samsung Galaxy 5G phone out now.
My advice, if you are upgrading a phone it is worth getting a 5G phone as it will work on 4G and 5G and as 5G becomes available you can use it when visiting those CBD’s or overseas areas that are already broadcasting the 5G network.
For now, 4G is constantly improving and the big advantage it has over 5G (apart from the obvious – that it is up and working) is that it uses a lower frequency so it travels further distance and goes through barriers like walls and trees more easily. So yes, it is exciting that 5G is coming but it is fantastic that we have 4G already – it is already miracle stuff for speed and it is still being improved on. So use your 4G knowing that you are using the very latest WORKING and broadly available Mobile data technology in the world!
A Point of Difference
Just one other point in closing – there has been some additional confusion about 5G because in normal Wifi Transmissions we have 2.4G and 5G as abbreviations. These are absolutely NOT the same thing!
In Wifi technology 2.4G and 5G refer to 2.4 Gigahertz and 5.8 Gigahertz which are wireless frequencies (like TV channels only higher up the scale) and yes 5.8Ghz is quicker than 2.4Ghz and 2.4Ghz travels further similar to discussions about 4G and 5G data but that is where the similarity ends.
So, when you see 5G come up on your Wifi – realise that it has nothing to do with the new 5G Mobile network as talked about in the news. And yes, you are right – it is very tricky when people use the same abbreviation for 2 totally different things!! I know – What The? But at least now you know there is a difference. As they say – knowledge is power! Hope you feel a little bit more empowered!
To dive a bit deeper into this technically follow this link: More on what is the difference between the new 5G mobile data and the Wifi 5G transmissions.
And a shameless plug at the end – if you need anything done to improve, install, extend or upgrade Wifi – please give us a call as we have some great solutions!
Until next time, Keep smiling,
Phil and the Sunshine Antenna Service team