In the world of wireless communications, 5G is all the hype right now. And even though 4G LTE is now capable of providing up to gigabit-class speeds, you can’t stop everyone in the tech world from focusing on 5G.
5G is the fifth-generation industry standard that is super seceding 4G LTE. It’s poised to reach speeds of 100 Gbps eventually. And it’s not just about downloads and upload speeds, but also reducing latency.
From your smartphone to connected cars and Internet-of-Things devices, 5G will revolutionize the world around us.
So how fast is 5G? Find out in this guide.
Understanding What Speeds Mean
Anytime you look into the world of internet speeds, you’ll see the term megabit (Mbps) or gigabit (Gbps). It’s important to know that a megabit or gigabit is not the same as a megabyte or gigabyte.
“Bit” is used for internet speeds while “Byte” is used for storage capacities like USB drives and hard drives. One megabyte is equal to eight megabits.
What does this mean? Put in practical terms, one megabit is slow, but functional broadband internet. Netflix recommends for streaming HD video that you have a minimum internet speed of 5 Mbps. For 4K, the advice is 25 Mbps minimum.
If you want to download a 4 GB Blue-ray movie, here’s how long it would take at different speeds:
|1 Mbps||10 Mbps||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||1 Gbps|
How Fast 5G Will Be
5G is expected to reach speeds of 100 Gbps per second eventually. However, speeds are nowhere near that fast yet. So far, 5G is generally between 500 Mbps – 2 Gbps, depending on the network you use. As with previous technologies in the past, capabilities will grow over time.
Even at present speeds, 5G beat many current home cable internet connection drawing comparisons to fiber. This will make it a serious competitor for landline internet companies as coverage networks expands. This is doubly true as wireless carriers can deliver their services without the need for physical wires entering the home.
More than anything, 5G promises significantly reduced latency. This translates to quicker loading times and improved responsiveness when doing anything on the internet.
Latency is the amount of time between the information that is sent from devices to the receiver. Reduced latency means you could use your smartphone as a true replacement for broadband modems.
4G networks have an average latency of 50ms. With 5G that can drop to 1ms. To contextualize this, it takes at least 10Ms for an image seen by your eyes to be processed by the brain. That means 5G will be super responsive and ready for AR and VR deployments.
Different Speeds of Each Generation
When thinking about the speed of 5G, as well as other cellular generations, it’s better to think of it in terms of ranges. Many factors will determine real-world speed, including the network you connect to, how busy it is, the device you use, and so on.
This table will give you a basic idea of the maximum and typical speeds of cellular network technology:
|Generation||2G||3G||3G HSPA +||4G||4G LTE-A||5G|
|Max||0.3 Mbps||7.2 Mbps||32 Mbps||150 Mbps||1 Gbps||10 Gbps|
|Average||0.1 Mbps||1.5 Mbps||5 Mbps||10 Mbps||15-50 Mbps||50Mpbs-2 Gbps|
How Fast is 5G Now?
5G speeds vary significantly, and there’s a big reason for that: there are different types of 5G. Don’t worry; we’re not going to get too technical.
The two main types of 5G in the US right now are low-band and high-band (also known as mm-Wave).
Low-band 5G is capable of traveling very far distances (over 1000 thousand miles from cell towers). But it’s only about 20% faster than 4G LTE at between 80-100 Mbps. This type of 5G is going to form the backbone of rural networks is what networks like T-Mobile and AT&T currently have in place.
High-band (mm-Band) 5G is the super-fast 5G you’ve heard about. But it can only travel short distances. It has average speeds between 1-2 Gbps per second. So far, these types of 5G are only available in cities as you have to be much closer to a cell tower to pick up this signal.
Over the next few years, the major carriers will continue building combination networks of these technologies until you see the type of nationwide coverage the 4G LTE offers.
How Can I Use 5G?
You need a 5G compatible device. Right now, there are about ten phones on the market that have 5G antennas. Over the next year, many more devices are slated to be released that should also be more affordable.
If you plan on purchasing any 5G device, make sure it is compatible with both high and low-band 5G signals.
T-Mobile currently has the largest 5G network covering over 5,000 cities and towns across the US. However, it’s low-band the tops out around 225 Mbps, which is still very fast. Verizon has the most extensive high-band network in 35 cities. But the rollout is happening quickly, so keep a close eye on this.
Final Thoughts: How Fast is 5G?
We’re at the dawn of the 5G era. It won’t be long before there is a massive number of available smartphones and other devices that take advantage of next-generation technology. Is now the right time to get a 5G device? Maybe.
By the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, 5G devices should be affordable for the average buyer. Keep an eye on the big releases to see if you are ready to make the leap to the next generation!
Visit the Buyback Boss Blog to discover more about cellular carriers, smartphones, and technology. If you’re happy with a 4G device, you can now find great deals on both the Samsung Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS. Check out this comparison between the two flagships here. For everything, you’ve wanted to know about tech, head over to our blog now!