What is 5G? Everything about 5G explained

5G is coming to town, but will it be yours? Read this guide to learn what it is, the difference between 5G and 4G and where it's available. 

What is 5G? 

5G is mankind’s latest advancement within the world of internet mobile connectivity, but what sets it apart from its predecessors? 

Its download speed is significantly faster than both 3G and 4G, which offer maximum speeds of 0.3Mbps (megabits per second) and 150Mbps respectively. The gargantuan upgrade in 5G will see users obtain download speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (1 gigabit per second), although its speeds will vary greatly depending on location. 

It’s also a brand new type of radio spectrum technology altogether, and even at 5G's lowest points, users will still experience higher speeds than 4G.

5G vs 4G

You’ll be able to do everything you can on 4G, just much, much faster. Downloading, streaming and video calling will be revolutionised when on the go - so no more buffering and call-backs. 

5G will have much lower latency - that is, the time it takes for a network to respond to your actions - which will be highly noticeable during activities that involve minute inputs and real-time feedback. Crucial within the world of online gaming and other processes where an instant response is needed.  

The network capacity of 5G is far superior to that of 4G, too. If you’ve ever had full 4G signal but found surfing the web was extremely slow, it’s because thousands of other people are on the network trying to do the exact same thing. 

When is 5G coming to the UK?

It’s already here! The development of 5G has been monumental during the latter half of 2019, with most mobile networks in the UK initially giving the start of 2020 as an estimated time of arrival.

However, the UK’s biggest networks are slowly but surely developing their 5G services, which can be expected to go on into the foreseeable future. For now, only select areas within the UK have access to 5G, so check out section below to find out if you qualify. If not, you might have some waiting to do.

Where is 5G available in the UK? 

EE was the first mobile network in the UK to launch its 5G network, with the promise of making it available in 26 cities over the course of 2019/2020. To date, EE’s 5G service is available in nine cities across the United Kingdom. See the list below. 

  • London
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Bristol
  • Leicester
  • Edinburgh
  • Belfast
  • Cardiff
  • Coventry

Vodafone was the second UK mobile phone network to offer 5G to its customers, and has since surged through the nation in terms of location availability. As it stands, Vodafone offers 5G networks in 30 towns and cities across the UK, and they say many more are yet to come. Visit their website to see whether or not you are eligible for a 5G network with Vodafone

Three claim to be building the UK’s fastest 5G network. One reason for this is the amount of 5G spectrum they possess, which is the over-the-air bandwidth that mobile networks need to transmit data. Apparently, they have more than anyone else right now, sending them ahead in the competition. 

O2 currently offers 5G in six cities - Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds - and are hoping to increase this number to 20 by the end of 2019, and to 50 by the summer of 2020. 

What phones are 5G compatible? 

The likelihood is, your current phone does not hold the technology necessary to support a 5G network, so if you really want it, it might be time to consider changing contracts. 

The next generation of smartphones will be able to switch between 4G and 5G networks smoothly, so when you travel out of a 5G area, your phone will be able to revert back to using existing 4G networks. Pre-empting the release of 5G, some of the biggest names have already released 5G compatible phones. 

Take a look and compare the latest deals on 5G compatible phones. Select the Mobile Phones drop down at the top and simply browse away. 

× Need help choosing the best deal?
Call us on 020 3974 9022