What is 5G and 5G LTE and How is it Different from 4G?
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of coverage surrounding the launch of 5G networks. But what exactly is 5G, and when can we all expect to have connectivity? In today’s post, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about 5G and let you know whether non-5G phones will be compatible after the complete rollout.
What is 5G?
When 4G launched all the way back in 2009, a new generation of wireless communications tech rolled out to the masses. Now, 5G is the term used for the 5th generation of wireless connectivity across the globe and has been slowly being rolled out since 2019.
5G LTE, on the other hand, is slightly different. It stands for Long Term Evolution, which is a phrase used to describe working towards a true 5G connection. It can be described as the midway point between 4G and 5G as 5G LTE is better than 4G, but not quite as fast as 5G. So, as we transition into a 5G network, you may find that you’ll be on the 5GLTE network first for a while.
Comparisons to 4G
Throughout the last few decades, each generation of wireless communications has come with a significant upgrade. The 2G network introduced the world of text messaging, while 3G opened the world of mobile data. 4G increased data speeds by up to 10x and improved latency when talking on the phone. While 4G was transformational at the time, nowadays when we’re constantly streaming data, speeds that cap in the real world at around 2Mbps just don’t cut it. 5G is set to change this significantly. While 4G speeds are usually fine for browsing social media or checking emails, it can sometimes be lacking if you need to download large files or want to stream high-quality video wirelessly like with Netflix.
How fast is 5G?
So what kinds of speeds can we expect from 5G?
According to Speedcheck, the average download speeds on the 5G network are around 59Mbps in the US—a significant improvement from its predecessor. This is a real-world example and is far more likely than the theoretical maximum of 5G, which is said to be around 10Gbps (yes, gigabits per second). Nevertheless, 5G could head further towards that speed in the coming years.
Rollout of the 5G Network
Of course, as with any rollout, there’s a period of time where the networks cross paths and work together. While many cellphone providers a year ago would’ve been eager to push 5G compatible devices at a premium, by the time 4G is phased out, we’ll have all upgraded, and likely without the additional price tag.
You don’t need to necessarily go out and buy a 5G compatible device right now. Even if you have a 4G phone, it’ll still work if you’re in a 5G area. The only difference is that your phone won't have access to the 5G speeds. Nevertheless, it’ll still function as normal on the 4G network meanwhile.
Looking to the Future: 6G
While there are only a limited number of us that currently have access to 5G technology (mainly those in city locations), 6G technology is already in the works and is set to be a trillion-dollar opportunity. Expected to be launched around 2029 or 2030, China has already launched satellites into orbit in anticipation of 6G. Though 6G is more conceptual than anything at the moment, we can expect to see speeds of 100x that of 5G. Some are feeling very optimistic, with Dr. Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam suggesting that 6G speeds could hit 1TBps download speeds (8000Gbps).