What is 5G?

5G is often in the headlines, but what is it and what does it mean for your mobile phone? Here, we find out what it’s all about along with its pros and cons.

What is 5G?

The ‘G’ stands for ‘generation’ so 5G refers to the fifth generation of wireless (mobile) technology. It’s the latest development after 4G, 3G and 2G and offers much greater speeds and allows for far more devices to be connected at the same time.

Why do we need 5G?

5G is the next stage in the evolution of wireless technology. Like other previous generations, it will allow users to do more while they’re out and about. For example, 2G enabled mobile phone users to send text messages, 3G meant they could get online, and 4G led to faster on the go browsing.

What are the benefits of 5G?

One of the biggest benefits is increased speed. Alongside this is reduced latency, which is the amount of time it takes for a device to carry out the action you’ve instructed it to do. For gamers in particular, reduced latency can improve user experience and allow you to interact in ‘real-time’. Another benefit is that 5G technology can help reduce the amount of energy your devices use which should increase battery life.

5G also allows more devices to be connected at the same time, combined with its much faster speeds, this can help drive even more technology innovation. Areas that could benefit from 5G include augmented realities which could be used for both education and entertainment.

And the downsides of 5G?

5G has been relatively slow to roll out throughout the country. With larger towns and cities prioritised, it could mean rural areas fall even further behind when it comes to digital access.

Plus, new technology can mean new security risks, especially if more devices are connected.

Is 5G available everywhere in the UK?

All four of the main network providers (EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone) offer 5G but it isn’t available everywhere. That said, it is being rolled out with the intention that 5G will reach just over 65% of the population by the end of 2023.

Bear in mind that different mobile networks have their own roll out plans in place, so if and when you can access 5G, will depend on your provider. In most cases, firms focussed their efforts on delivering 5G to larger towns and cities, but are now starting to turn their attention to more rural parts of the UK.

How much faster is 5G compared to 4G?

5G is significantly faster than 4G but speed will vary depending on your mobile provider and where you are in the country.

Typically, 4G offers average download speeds of 36Mbps but 5G can reach speeds well over 90Mbps. To put that into perspective, it means you could download a high-definition film over 5G in less than a second.

Which mobile network offers the greatest 5G coverage?

Each of the four big network providers are constantly improving their 5G services. Currently, data show that Three and EE offer the fastest download speeds but Vodafone has also been praised for its 5G experience for gamers.

The latest data collected by mobile testing firm, RootMetrics show median speeds for each of the big four providers:

  • Three – 202.8Mbps
  • EE – 141.6Mbps
  • Vodafone – 107.4Mbps
  • O2 – 71Mbps

Mobile virtual network operators using these providers may or may not have 5G access.

Do all phones support 5G?

To access 5G, your phone will need to be 5G enabled. The majority of new smartphones are 5G ready but it’s worth checking if you’re looking for a new handset.

Find the best mobile phone contract and SIM deals for you with Uswitch.

Can I use 5G for home broadband?

If you live somewhere with 5G, then yes, you could use 5G mobile technology as your home internet connection. You’ll need a 5G router or dongle (depending on how many devices you want to connect).

You’ll need to consider that mobile broadband deals could limit your monthly data and unlimited data packages could be more expensive compared to traditional home broadband. Not only that, depending on where you live and the stability of the signal, your connection could be inconsistent.

Nevertheless, mobile broadband is often considered a good option if you travel a lot or move on a regular basis.

Are there any health risks?

5G has been in the news with people worried about its impact on health. However, the UK Health Security Agency has advised that 5G should not pose any danger to health and that exposure to radio waves ‘remain low’ according to international standards.

This view is also supported by Cancer Research UK, who also state that ‘there is no good evidence that the 5G mobile network increases cancer risk’.

Where can I compare 5G mobile phone deals?

Most smartphones are now 5G enabled which means you’ll be able to use the 5G network if it’s available where you are.

To compare the latest contract and SIM only packages, why not head over to Uswitch below. Simply toggle ‘5G only’ to search fifth generation deals.

Find the best mobile phone contract and SIM deals for you with Uswitch.


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