Mobile manufacturers have been advertising “5G ready” mobile devices in recent months, so where does this leave 4G connectivity solutions? How has mobile technology evolved in recent months?
Understanding the G in 4G
The G refers to the “generation” of a mobile network. The first generation was the 1G network which started in the 1980’s in Japan. Subsequent generations have followed which are 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.
Ten years on from the launch of 3G, in 2008 the ITU-R International Telecommunications Union-Radio communications sector set the requirements for the 4G standard. The peak speed requirement for 4G services was set at 100Mbps for mobile connectivity and up to 1Gbps for static deployments.
This 4th generation network supports internet access for services such as HD mobile TV, HD video and video conferencing as well as gaming services, which all require high speed connectivity. This is the current standard which is openly available on most mobile devices throughout the UK.
What is 5G?
5G is the next generation connectivity network for mobile devices. Several 5G ready mobile devices have recently launched. The 5G network is suited specifically to high density areas as the data signal can only travel across shorter distances. Therefore, 5G is currently only suited to cities and has been rolled out in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester and Cardiff. More cities will become 5G ready by the end of 2019 including Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. 5G intends to improve on the speeds of 4G LTE with download speeds of up to 20Mbps being promised.
What’s the difference between 4G and 5G?
The 4G network is still the primary mobile network used in the UK. 4G and 5G are on different network frequencies, meaning if you wanted to connect to either a 4G or 5G network, your mobile device will have to have the correct chip for that frequency. 5G frequencies for the UK are 3.4 to 3.8 Ghz.
Essentially 4G is the best network for people who don’t live in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester or Cardiff. 4G is still the best network for anyone that doesn’t have a 5G device or whom doesn’t live in the current 5G ready cities.
Will 4G become irrelevant?
Not anytime soon! 4G and 5G will coexist alongside each other for a good while. Many devices will be using the 4G network for at least another decade especially IOT and smart home devices. Devices that need a lot of battery life will struggle on the current 5G network as it guzzles battery life. 5G is currently only suitable for people in the five cities mentioned that have a 4G enabled device.
What does it mean for internet and broadband services?
4G isn’t going away. 4G will remain the most prominent data network for a long time. 4G will remain what people connect to in rural locations. The 4G network remains a quality network and it is being expanded upon and getting faster all the time.