What's All This 5G and 6G Nonsense?
Posted on 17th June 2019 at 17:49
There’s no 6G available yet. Let’s just start by making that clear. The powers that may be are researching into the possibility of 6G but it’s still some way off yet. And besides, it’s all about 5G at the moment. The whole 5G revolution is very new and is a big deal. EE are even saying you can have 5G at the Glastonbury festival this year.
The networks shelled out millions to get a cut of the 5G airwaves. They’ve started rolling out the new 5G contracts this month, yes that’s right, different contracts.
What do the Gs even stand for?
G is the generation. So, for the majority of people, they will currently be using 4th generation technology, or 2nd and 3rd generation in some areas, depending on how many masts there are near you, how close the nearest mast is, how think the walls are in your building, and how busy the network is on that radio frequency.
I don’t know how much you remember of the changes between 2G and 3G, and then 4G. The basic crux of it is speed. If you use a 2G signal and then try and load a web page with huge images on it, the reality is that you mostly get the scrolling wheel of death, rather than see the page you requested.
What’s so amazing about 5G? Why bother getting it?
Well, 5G is even faster, not just a little bit faster but significantly faster. They’re talking about it reducing the download speed of a HD movie from around ten minutes to ten seconds. So, it really is a big deal. Higher radio frequencies which are less cluttered mean the information can travel faster, meaning a better service for you as the consumer.
Before, you jump up and down and start demanding faster speeds, there are some things you need to know.
In the UK, the 5G roll-out has only just started and currently only covers a handful of major cities, on a trial basis, with further rollout expected over the next few months and years.
The faster speed and higher radio frequencies come at a cost, the information can’t travel as far, so more masts are needed to get the same level of coverage. And you know what that means - it's going to take time.
The networks are promoting 5G everywhere, but the reality is that the phone manufacturers have not yet been quite so forthcoming in keeping up with the technological advances.
And that’s the other important factor in all of this – you need a 5G handset. The 4G modems in phones just simply weren’t made to handle 5G no matter how much you might wish to use your powers of persuasion to make them do otherwise!
Currently, on the market there’s not a lot of choice of handsets which will do 5G. Samsung‘s flagship model the Galaxy S10 is 5G ready, then apart from that there’s the OnePlus 7 Pro, OPPO Reno, LG V50 ThinQ and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3.
And notice the company that’s missing – Apple. Due to arguments over licensing and royalties they don’t have a device available which is 5G ready, with nothing on the horizon any sooner than late next year, and even then, there’s no promises. They are looking to create their own 5G technology instead of harnessing another company’s but realistically speaking that will be some way off. And in the rush for 5G, Apple may miss the boat.
With 5G handsets starting around the £700 mark, and the tariffs costing around 25% more a month, I’m not sure most people will want to splash out that much on a trip to Glastonbury just yet to get faster internet access!!
And of course, there are those who want there to be rigorous testing done of this 5G technology to look into how harmful the waves could be to people and the environment, especially when people are using their phones all day every day. And when the words being thrown around are cancer-causing and radiation sickness, it does make you wonder. I’m not convinced it calls for mass panic, but studies do need to done to look into direct and indirect exposure.
But I do think this space is well worth watching. Faster access, better connection, and better download speeds all round sound great, but until the roll-out of widespread 5G coverage, and the choice of 5G enabled handsets increases, you may just find yourself sorely disappointed and somewhat out of pocket for the privilege!
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