30 January 2020

The Key Differences Between 5G and 4G

With all the hype about 5G arriving in the UK, the one question we are regularly asked is, “What’s the difference between 4G & 5G?”. We therefore thought it was about time we separated fact from fiction and have written this short guide to the main differences you can expect between 4G & 5G.

When 4G Arrived In Town

When 4G was first introduced in the late noughties it was the fourth generation of the UK’s mobile phone network and promised speeds up to 500 times faster than the previous 3G network.

It is fair to say that if it wasn’t for 4G technology, smartphones might not have caught on quite as much as they have as users would have been unable to access the online services they have come to rely on quickly enough.

As the roll out of 4G continued into the early ‘teenies’, and the UK soon achieved almost universal coverage across the country, came the explosion in smartphone technology and usage that virtually every one of us is a part of.

This has led to 4G becoming known as the “Era of the Smartphone”.

Is 5G Really Worth It?

Now, as we face the latest upgrade to the UK’s mobile network from 4G to 5G, the question remains, why do we need to upgrade things in the first place? Is 4G not enough?

  • icon-speed1. Faster Speeds
    Much in the same way that 4G promised faster speeds over the previous 3G network, the introduction of 5G to the UK is promising speeds of over 100 times those currently available with 4G. It has also been claimed that the maximum speeds possible through 5G will be well over 1Gbps and could even be as high as 10Gbps. This puts 5G speeds much higher than those you could expect from a home broadband connection.

    When 4G was first introduced it was anticipated that maximum speeds would be around 150Mbps although as the technology improved, speeds of 300Mbps to 1Gbps were possible.

    In the real world, however, 4G is averaging speeds of 15Mbps to 50Mbps whilst 5G is anticipating average speeds of 50Mbps and upwards.

    Yes, 5G will be much faster than 4G and whilst it is true that speed is an important factor when mobile connectivity is being assessed, in the real world speed isn’t what 5G is getting people excited about...
  • bandwidth2. Higher Bandwidth
    As smartphone usage has grown exponentially the capacity available is getting smaller and smaller. If things remain as they are 4G technology runs the risk of becoming a victim of its own success with too many people accessing (and relying on) too many online services. If this happens the network will eventually come under pressure and speeds could potentially slow down quite drastically.

    Who wants a virtual traffic jam when you need to access a business critical application?

    The benefit of 5G technology is that it uses much higher bandwidth spectrum and with this comes much more capacity. This should mean that in reality if you are in a densely populated public place the 5G network should not face as much pressure as the 4G network would. Think of being at a concert and having a crystal clear telephone line when ringing for a lift home whilst ‘000s of other people are trying to do the same thing or even having a full signal to access your online services and book an Uber. This will be possible with 5G owing to the much higher bandwidth available.
  • speeds-23. Lower Latency
    The true game changer from the introduction 5G is down to 5G technology having much lower latency. Latency is effectively the time it takes for devices to communicate with one another and with 5G the latencies involved will be much less than those over 4G networks. On the face of it, this may not seem to be big news, however, lower latencies will allow many more technologies to come of age.

    If 4G was the Era of the Smartphone, the lower latencies achieved through 5G will herald the “Era of The Internet Of Things (IoT)” and the true introduction of ‘Smart Technology’.

    With minimal lag in the time it takes for information to be passed from one device to another, new technologies will become possible such as Driverless Cars, Smart Homes, Remote Medical Devices and even Virtual Stadiums where you could be a virtual delegate at a conference, a virtual concert goer or even a virtual fan at your favourite football team - all from the comfort of your own home!

In Summary

Whilst some of the technologies promised still sound a bit far fetched it will be interesting to see what real benefits 5G will bring. Perhaps when we look back in 10 or 15 years we will be astonished that we didn’t believe that technologies, such as driverless cars, where once mocked and nobody really believed them to be possible.  Who knows?  What benefits do you think future technology could bring?

To find out more about what 5G technology could do for your business today, please get in touch to find out more.

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You may also be interested in downloading a copy of our free guide, “Better Business Connectivity” to find out more about what better connectivity could do for your business.

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Written By

Connect Total Communications

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