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What is 5G and when can we get it?

3rd April 2018

In 2012, EE was the first network provider to introduce 4G (fourth generation) mobile service in the UK and other providers followed suit in 2013.

The 4G network allowed people to have much quicker download speeds than its predecessor 3G and helped to eliminate buffering times meaning it is much easier to stream on mobile. At first 4G plans were very expensive, however, they have now become a part of the standard tariffs with most network providers, and most people using a smartphone will be running with a 4G network.

Now, there have finally been talks about a 5G network coming into play in the next couple of years after T-Mobile announced they had plans to roll-out the 5G plans in 30 cities across America by the end of 2019, with Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Las Vegas to be the first. Although it has not been confirmed how much faster the 5G network will be, the idea is that we will be able to get broadband equivalent download speeds on our mobiles and effectively be able to stream a 4K video with lower latency/lag. The new network is also said to be great for handling lots of devices, which is great for buildings with lots of smart technology.

2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks all use radio waves, but this new 5G uses part of the electromagnetic spectrum which uses higher frequency signals and doesn’t travel as far as the signals used by 4G. The main issue here is that more antennas will need to be built in order to support a 5G network which can be costly. Another problem experts have flagged with the 5G concept is the battery life on the devices using this network will need to be upgraded to reduce the energy usage, especially on slim phones with smaller batteries, however, it could be argued that the faster speeds and connections can be carried out quicker, therefore, using less energy.

We’ve heard all about it, but when can we expect to be using this on our own phones? Trials of 5G have already been taking place in the UK by EE in labs as well as in the public by Arqiva and Samsung, however, regardless of the testing, the roll-out of the network will realistically be likely at the end of 2019 and throughout 2020.

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