Once again a new generation of mobile network is just around the corner, ready to take the nation by storm and make streaming your favorite form of online content exponentially faster on your mobile telecommunications device – but what exactly is 5G, how much faster is it, and should you care?
What Is 5G?
Well, the G in 5G standards for generation. We’ve already had 2G and 3G and currently enjoy the somewhat steady speeds of 4G with the 5th generation said to be just around the corner. 5G-ready smartphones are set to be released next year, with 5G supposedly being rolled out in the UK sometime in 2020.
What separates 5G from 4G is not only the speeds, but also the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. This means we can connect together lots of different devices in smart cities and buildings.
How much faster is 5G
Now this is where things get really interesting, as networks are never as fast as described. 4G is described as being around 20Mbps download and 10Mbps upload in typical real world examples, with a theoretical max speed of 150Mbps download and 50Mbps upload.
However, after conducting a number of tests, in various locations and on various mobile phones (Android and Apple both tested) my max speeds were as follows.
This is somewhat disappointing, especially living in a main UK city, and does make me wonder if I would see any noticeable improvements using 5G. Initial reports are saying that 5G could potentially run at 100 times the speed of 4G networks, but as well as this, 5G networks will be utilising the electromagnetic spectrum that isn’t being used for other kinds of network, unlike 3/4G which both use radio waves.
If these speeds are to be believed, this puts 5G on or above what current broadband provides such as BT are offering.
So, what does this mean for me optimising my website, should I no longer bother?
Despite the ‘record breaking’ blazing fast speeds being advertised, 5G is almost definitely not going to be as fast as advertised, and if it is, that will be in very specific locations and under special circumstances that you probably won’t encounter and a day to day basis.
With current 4G, simply moving behind a couple of trees or tall building can severely hampers results. Likewise on the move, such as on a bus, in a car or on the train, connections can quite often slow down or even intermittently go offline.
Keeping your loading times to an absolute minimum is key. The chart below shows current load speeds in 4 different countries across multiple sectors.