All you need to know about 5G
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What is 5G
5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment, your 4G LTE connection. With 5G, you’ll see exponentially faster download and upload speeds. Latency, or the time it takes devices to communicate with the wireless networks, will also drastically decrease.
Right now it seems like there are more questions about 5G than there are answers. Some people are wondering what 5G is, and if they’ll ever see it in their city, while others are more interested in 5G smartphones. And of course, there is the debate about which carrier will have the best 5G service.
When will 5G launch?
In the US
Verizon surprised most of the world by launching its 5G network at the start of April 2019, making it the first globally to offer the next-generation network. It’s currently only available in limited parts of Chicago and a few other locations, and there are just two handsets currently available to use on the new 5G network.
AT&T has rolled out its 5G network to 19 cities across the States, but it still doesn’t offer any 5G phones – with your only option for now a 5G Netgear Nitehawk mobile hotspot.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is yet to launch its 5G network in the US, but it previously said it would bring 5G to 30 cities, starting in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas.
In the UK
EE was the first UK company to launch its 5G network on May 30, 2019, switching it on in six cities. By the end of 2019, it has promised to bring 5G to 10 additional cities.
Vodafone followed on July 3, 2019, when it launched 5G in seven cities on July 17, expanding out to another eight cities and towns.
Next up was Three, which launched a 5G service in London on August 19, however, there’s a catch – it’s initially only available for home broadband. However, it will be coming to mobile later this year, as well as to 24 more towns and cities.
O2 is the only major UK network with no 5G coverage yet, but it is expected to phase out 5G in October.
As of May 2019, with the introduction of Australia’s first 5G handset- the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Telstra‘s 5G service went live, and Optus has now joined.
At the time, coverage of Telstra was limited to 10 major cities and regions and was somewhat limited and patchy within those regions. This includes Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Toowoomba, and Gold Coast.
5G Works Differently Than 4G
A new type of mobile network wouldn’t be new if it wasn’t, in some way, fundamentally different than existing ones. One fundamental difference is 5G’s use of unique radio frequencies to achieve what 4G networks cannot.
5G also uses shorter wavelengths, which means that antennas can be much smaller than existing antennas while still providing precise directional control. Since one base station can utilize even more directional antennas, it means that 5G can support over 1,000 more devices per meter than what’s supported by 4G.
However, most of these super-high frequencies work only if there’s a clear, direct line-of-sight between the antenna and the device receiving the signal. What’s more is that some of these high frequencies are easily absorbed by humidity, rain, and other objects, meaning that they don’t travel as far.
What 5G phones are available?
A number of 5G phone announcements have been made in 2019, however only a handful are currently available, and the choice is further limited by country and carrier.
In the US, Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod provides next-generation connectivity to a select few Moto Z handsets, plus the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is also available.
For those in the UK, you can currently get hold of six 5G phones; the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G is also available for pre-order at the time of writing.
In Australia, five 5G smartphones are currently available. The Oppo Reno 5G for AU$1,499, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G for AU$1,399, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G for AU$1,999, and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G for AU$1,729. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is available in both 256GB and 512GB configurations for $1,849 and $2,199 respectively.
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