4G versus 5G | What’s the difference?

5G has finally arrived in the UK.  The major networks have been working away behind the scenes for the last couple of years building new network infrastructure and testing 5G’s super-fast capabilities across the UK. EE are first out the door, with their 5G service launching on May 30 2019, Vodafone won’t be too far behind, with their launch happening on July 3 2019.

If you can remember back to before we had 4G, you’ll remember enjoying 3G, which whilst not blisteringly fast, was kind of capable at loading simple websites fairly quickly for reading articles on your phone and sending tweets. Then in October 2012 along came 4G, which saw the introduction of video and music streaming services that just wouldn’t have been possible over 3G. 4G was a technological revolution for mobile and it’s led to us being able to enjoy broadband-speed internet on our phones and even allowed some people to ditch their broadband home connection altogether due to 4G being faster than their wired home connection.

And now we have 5G which will literally change the world as we know it. It’s easy to think of 5G as just another speed upgrade, the same kind of jump we saw from GPRS to 3G to 4G, but it’s so much more than that. 5G, despite what the name may suggest, is a massive technological leap forward for mobile internet and data, and whilst it will indeed bring you blisteringly fast internet speeds that can download movies in seconds, it will also play host to new services in industries we haven’t even thought of yet, along with innovations in healthcare, vehicles, fitness, drones and gaming.

Whilst we can only peek so far into the future, there are a few facts we do know about 5G and how it compares with 4G.

5G will sit alongside 4G

4G isn’t going away. When 5G first launches it will only be available in selected areas, as the networks roll out the service. That means, that whilst 5G coverage expands, 4G will still very much continue to be available in the UK, alongside 3G too. What this means is that coverage for mobile will continue to improve but if you’re in a 5G area, you’ll benefit from an even better service (assuming you have a 5G-compatible phone).

It won’t be available everywhere immediately

EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three have been getting ready to roll out 5G for a while but it will be some time before the entire UK has 5G coverage. Until that time, your 5G-compatible phone will use 5G when it can but will switch back to 4G when it needs to. EE and Vodafone have both announced the cities that will receive 5G first.

5G will increase connection reliability

Ever been in a really busy location such as a train station (we’re looking at you King’s Cross) or a concert? Due to the sheer number of people gathering in one location, all connected to the network, mobile speeds and connection reliability can really suffer, with the internet and your valuable apps sometimes slowing to a crawl and pages not even loading. 5G should get rid of that problem altogether as it allows for more users to be on the network at one time, and will also free up space on the existing 4G network.

5G will give you crazy-fast internet

Speed is the thing most association with 5G, and you can see why. 4G in the UK can reach theoretical speeds of 300Mbps, faster than many fibre broadband connection, but realistically it’s rare that you’ll hit those speeds and dependent on where you are in the UK. Most 4G users will get speeds of around 60-100Mbps. 5G is capable of 1Gbps and more which is super-fast. In practise, it means you’ll be able to download an HD movie in a matter of a few seconds, rather than a few minutes with 4G.

5G will bring new experiences on your mobile

Play games on your mobile phone? 5G will open up a whole new world of gaming experiences. At it’s most basic level, it means more reliable multiplayer gaming, but will also mean online virtual reality gaming and 4K video streaming are possible. Streaming quality for music will be improved as the network will be capable of streaming higher quality files. This is turn will create demand for better quality headphones, mobile screens and speakers so expect lots of new gadgets and gizmos that utilise 5G.

Healthcare will receive an overhaul

Monitoring a patient’s health remotely is nothing new, but one of the key requirements of these services is instant feedback.  If you need some help, seconds can make a difference and 5G will allow for more advanced forms of monitoring your health and quickly sending valuable data back to medical professionals. 5G VR innovation will allow for more advanced remote training and real-time video feeds will allow surgeons in the field to collaborate directly with colleagues when performing complex operations.  And how’s this for future tech? Surgeons will one day be able to send a robotic drone into the field (such an inaccessible jungle) using 5G, and then have that drone perform the operation whilst the surgeon controls it from the hospital.

Self-driving cars will become the norm

Self-driving cars are already a thing but they’re not mass-market just yet. Part of the challenge is that these self-driving cars, taxis and trucks require real-time information on traffic conditions, other cars alongside them, incidents and weather as they need to make split-second decisions. 5G’s minimal latency (i.e. it’s reaction time) gives self-driving cars the technology they need to be safer and the bandwith 5G brings also allows for more self-driving cars to to be on the road at the same time.  As a possibly more important side-benefit of this, wireless-enabled connected vehicles also have the potential to reduce emissions by up to 90% and vehicle congestion in urban areas by up to 40%, a welcome reprieve from the estimated 97 hours we lose to traffic every year.

The eSports 5G Revolution

Think eSports is just for gaming geeks? Get ready to have that perception changed. In the same way people are happy to sit for hours watching a game of golf, or watch 90 minutes of their favourite football team, eSports has been rapidly gathering a loyal following an emerging into a multi-million pound industry, attracting major brands around the world.  It’s already creating millionaires out of gamers by the time their are 30 (who are then choosing to retire), and the fastest growing revenue stream in all of this is from the media rights. 5G will allow for live mobile broadcasting of these eSport tournaments as well as allow for massive remote online gaming tournaments where the UK can play against Japan without either team leaving their country. Vodafone and the world’s biggest eSports company, ESL, are have already announced that they are launching what they say is the first ever international 5G mobile eSports tournament.

This just scratches the service of what is possible with 5G compared to 4G.  We’ll have more 5G news and updates right here at Direct Mobiles, plus extensive guides on the best 5G smartphone deals around.

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