5G, or fifth generation technology, is redefining mobile broadband technology in terms of cost, performance, and efficiency. Here is everything you need to know to keep up with 5G technology in the UK.
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What is 5G?
5G technology is the next generation of mobile phone networks, which promises to be faster and more reliable than the current 4G network. It features higher connection speeds, over 5-10 times quicker than 4G, and lower latency, meaning response times for communicating with other wireless networks will be faster. Over the next few years, these speeds will improve and become even quicker. One of the other most important things that 5G mobile networks will accomplish for users is to increase the carrying capacity of the masts and allow more people to connect at the same time.
How does 5G work?
Wireless networks consist of cell sites divided into sections which use radio waves to transmit data. While 4G requires large, high-power cell towers to radiate signals, 5G wireless signals will be transmitted through large numbers of small, scattered cell stations in places like light poles and roofs. The usage of multiple small cells is necessary due to the millimetre wave spectrum (the band of spectrum between 30GHz and 300GHz that 5G relies on to produce high speeds) can only travel short distances and can be interfered with by weather and buildings.
Is 5G Safe?
While there are concerns that the harnessing of millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum for creating faster data speeds could pose public health risks, these kinds of worries aren’t new. Consumers for many years have been apprehensive about the possible health effects of radiation across the technology spectrum, although most studies published so far on cellphone service have been unable to find a definite link with radio airwaves and radiation-linked illnesses such as cancer.
To fully implement the technology, 5G will require approximately five times the amount of infrastructure as 3G or 4G, meaning not only more radios transmitting signals but also the radios will have to be closer to users. However, as a newly emerging technology, 5G internet has yet to be sufficiently studied for the effects to be fully understood, although the phone industry maintains that there are no harmful effects from any cellphone radiation.
How fast is 5G in the UK?
Similarly to 4G, 5G speed will often depend in part on the network provider and location. There are only a few mobile providers in the UK with 5G currently, with EE and Vodafone offering similar average speed estimates of 130-240Mbps. Three has announced that when it launches its own 5G UK service later this year it will be twice as fast as their competitors. This essentially means that downloading a full movie or mobile game could take only a small fraction of the time. As 5G continues to evolve and become less dependent on 4G infrastructure, some estimates put future download speeds at 10Gbps, up to 1000 times faster than 4G.
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