Everything you need to know about 5G

With 5G set to take the UK by storm, we’ve created this handy guide to explain everything you need to know about this new speed of data. 

Last updated: 21st Sep 2020 at 9:00am

What is 5G?

5G is the ‘fifth generation’ of data technology that allows you to access the internet without being connected to Wi-Fi or a router. It is the most recent form of wireless data to be launched, after 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G

The purpose of 5G is to provide faster connectivity for everyone on all devices. It aims to deliver higher Gbps speeds, low latency (interruption), increased coverage (as not all places have access to 4G), and more efficiency for a better mobile experience. 

We rely heavily on our phones both inside and outside, so telecommunication companies deem it rather significant to keep updating their data technology to provide the fastest, smoothest, and most reliable wireless service.

No single company or individual invented or owns 5G, as many networks have contributed to its release. 

How does 5G work?

5G, like its predecessors, functions through the use of radio waves. These waves, which emit from network antennas, allow devices to connect to the internet and telephone.

New networks like 5G give users a larger bandwidth, which produces higher download and upload speeds for streaming and sharing. This speed increase is achieved by higher frequency radio waves than previous networks. 

What can you do with 5G? 

Like past data technologies, you can use 5G to connect to the internet when out and about. Due to its faster connection speed, it allows you to comfortably watch movies, make video calls, play games, as well as connect to Smart Hubs, AR and VR systems. 

5G versus previous generations

How is 5G different to 4G? And, especially, how is this new technology any better than the four previous generations we’ve had over the years?

3G

4G

Download speeds = 7.2Mbps

Download speeds = 150Mbps - 300Mbps

Upload speeds = 2Mbps

Upload speeds - 50Mbps - 150Mbps

5G, however, has the ability to reach a (speculated) download speed of between 130Mbps and 240Mbps. Its download speeds are suspected to be even faster at 599Mbps, at the minimum, with a theoretical maximum download speed reaching 10Gbps to 50Gbps. However, these speeds vary depending on your area and the network provider you choose.

But we can conclude that the main difference between 5G and its predecessors is its sheer speed. As well as its speed, 5G will have a larger capacity (meaning more devices can connect) and be able to support more services like smart machinery and AR medical training. It will also have a variety of bandwidth options, from low to medium to high, which will be more powerful than 4G’s offerings. 

Where is 5G available?

You’ll probably be interested in finding out if 5G has been launched in your area. Bare in mind that you’ll need to purchase a phone that is compatible with 5G technology. 

5G has already been rolled out in several countries around the world, but not every network provider has got on board yet. As of 17/08/2020, the countries which have adopted 5G and started to spread it are as follows:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bahrain
  • Canada
  • China
  • Cezch Republic
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Maldives
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Virgin Islands 

It will take a while for 5G to cover more countries, as well as a lot of coverage in those countries listed above. For the United Kingdom, particularly, it will take a few years for 5G to rival 4G in terms of scope. 

Which UK networks support 5G?

As of right now, the networks who have launched 5G are:

  • EE
  • Three
  • O2
  • Vodafone
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Sky Mobile
  • VOXI
  • BT Mobile

5G is not currently available on Asda Mobile, but we have a wide range of 4G-enabled phones.

5G-enabled phones

In order to use 5G, your phone will have to be compatible with it. Many smartphones right now will only be able to use 4G, so chances are, you might have to purchase a new phone that allows 5G accessibility. Any smartphone that is powered by the Snapdragon X55 or Snapdragon X60 systems will be compatible with 5G. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some popular phones that support 5G:

  • Samsung: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G.
  • OnePlus: OnePlus 7 Pro, Oneplus 8 Pro.
  • LG: LG V50 ThinQ 5G, LG V60 Thinq 5G Dual Screen.
  • Oppo: OPPO Reno 5G, OPPO Find X2 Pro.
  • Xiaomi: Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G.
  • Sony: Sony Xperia 1 II.

No current iPhones support 5G, but you should look out for an iPhone 5G coming out in wake of this new technology. 

Are there any health risks associated with 5G?

As 5G uses electromagnetic radiation to provide its technology, some people have feared that it can increase the risk of developing cancer. However, WHO (the World Health Organisation) claimed that they hadn’t found enough substantial evidence to prove this theory, though radio radiation is told to be carcinogenic. This is the same with a microwave. 

Ofcom have also quoted Publish Health England in saying that the exposure to these dangerous radiowaves is ultimately too low to result in a large enough risk to human life. 

Eating meat is considered an even larger risk of developing cancer, so it appears to be more to do with excessive usage versus moderation, than with the 5G technology itself. 

As it's going to be a while till the UK has widespread 5G coverage, why not check out some of our 4G bundles?

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