The speed offered by 4G has completely changed the way people use smartphones and has made the rise of mobile apps and streaming services possible. However, every major wireless carrier in the USA has launched its 5G network and it has promised even faster speeds and lower latency.
More than a year after the carriers first flipped the switch on the 5G technology, the world hasn’t reached the holy grail yet. In the testing for 5G networks done in a handful of cities, the coronavirus pandemic has limited the ability to go out to perform testing, but there have been noticeable gigabit speeds that the fifth-generation promises.
How does 5G technology work?
5G networks can be built in a number of ways from multiple bands of wavelength spectrum – low-band, mid-band, and high-band.
High-band millimeter-wave frequencies make greater bandwidth available, which allows them to carry more data in dense urban areas but require cell sites to be in very close proximity while having limited penetration in buildings.
The mid-band will balance range and speed and provide broader coverage than high-band. It’ll be less impacted by buildings too. However, much of its bandwidth is being used already, so there isn’t a lot available for 5G.
Low-band, similar to the powerful 600MHz spectrum will travel farther than other bands and can easily pass through more obstacles while providing better, more reliable signals both indoors and outdoors.
Would 5G replace 4G?
While you’ll definitely need new 5G smartphones to access the 5G network, it doesn’t mean you’ll need one to reap the speed benefits. As the new network starts to roll out, you might experience faster speeds on the 4G network. Moreover, 5G will not replace 4G altogether. Rather, it’ll be its own distinct technology that builds on top of the existing 4G network. Even if you have 5G available in your area and your phone isn’t obsolete, it will still work fine on 4G.
5G vs. 4G download speeds compared –
|Average 5G download speed||4G|
|AT&T||60.8 Mbps||37.1 Mbps|
|Sprint||49.5 Mbps||32.5 Mbps|
|T-Mobile||49.2 Mbps||36.3 Mbps|
|Verizon||494.7 Mbps||53.3 Mbps|
Is it possible to get 5G speed on a 4G network device?
According to the GSMA intelligence report of February 2019, 15% of all global mobile connections would be 5G by 2025. By that year, 4G LTE usage would be about 59%, an increase from 43% in 2018. While COVID-19 has halted economies and industries, the integration of the 5G network is still being rolled out. Shoppers in China, where this outbreak started, considered 5G a must-have, and the subscriptions to this network are increasing.
Taking this into consideration, people who have 4G smartphones currently may see a substantial boost in the speed as the 5G network keeps on getting rolled out. This is because of two reasons – carrier aggregation and spectrum sharing.
Carrier aggregation will allow the carriers to combine 4G signals with other 4G signals, resulting in a massive performance and capacity lift, according to Heidi Hemmer, Verizon’s vice president of technology. As 5G builds on 4G technology, you will start to experience lower latency periods (i.e. the time between when your phone sends the request to the network and when it responds back) as the carriers continue developing their 5G networks.
DSS technology allows the carriers to employ the same spectrum band for both 4G and 5G. As people start transitioning to 5G, the lanes for 4G will start opening up for smart home devices and the users who aren’t on 5G yet. As more and more people start leaving 4G, the 4G capacity will increase and so will the speed. Providers are already being helped by DSS as it offers different flavors of 5G. In April, T-Mobile managed to acquire a large portion of the mid-band spectrum from Spring because of the merger.
5G – Revolution or Evolution?
It is the point in the article where you’ll be geeked out a little as you’ll get to know why 5G will be so superior to 4G!
4G is the technology build on the data application technology introduced in the early 2000s by 3G technology. Think of the launch of the app-powered smartphone that is now a part of your daily life. The promise of 5G’s high reliability and ultra-fast speed with low-latency will owe so much to the 4G network.
This is why the first phase of it is to essentially enhance the present capabilities of the 4G network, a kind of 4.5G network.
What makes 5G more capable?
Currently, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology is capable of only using lower frequency bands that operate up to 6GHz, whereas the radio bands that 5G would be able to handle would be somewhere between 30GHz and 300GHz.
This is a big leap forward and it’ll change the way people use their mobile devices. Since 5G can easily operate at such high frequencies, you can expect huge speed increases and support for massive data transfers.
Not only this, but these radio frequencies will not be crowded with existing devices – 5G is a brand new technology, meaning it will free up bandwidth.