Three of the UK’s four main mobile operators have already launched their 5G networks with promises of much faster speeds and better response times, but is it time to upgrade or should you wait for the technology to mature before taking the leap?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, following on from the 3G and 4G networks most of us are connected to every day. The network brings together a collection of technologies under a single generation “brand”, but in general will offer significantly faster speeds and lower response times, and will be capable of delivering up to 1,000 times as much data as today’s networks.
The speeds and response times will mean that 5G will not only replace the 3G and 4G mobile connections for mobile phones, but will also compete directly with broadband for home and office connectivity. For comparison, current 4G networks offer speeds of around 20-40Mbps, standard home broadband is around 30-50Mbps, and 5G will offer standard speeds of 100-200Mbps. This additional speed and low latency will be revolutionary, as not only will you be able to stream 4K movies and play top-title online games without the need for a wired connection, but it also opens up possibilities for holographic technology and autonomous car-to-car communications.
There is little doubt that everyone will benefit from the improvements in connectivity that 5G will bring, but right now there is little rush to upgrade your phone plan. Compare mobile phones on the market today and you will find that only a small fraction currently offer 5G connectivity – specifically the Huawei Mate X 5G, LG V50 ThinQ, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, and ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G. And whilst these phones will also work well with 2G, 3G, and 4G connections, 5G is only currently available in specific cities on BT/EE, Three, and Vodafone, with O2 expected to launch their 5G network later this year.
At this point, 5G is only really ready for the early adopter crowd who are happy to pay extra to get the latest and greatest gadgets. However, expect 5G competition to hot up by this time next year, with a 5G iPhone on the market and prices starting to become more competitive as all the MVNOs like Sky and Virgin start to compete with their own 5G offerings.