Although the public are familiar with terms such as 3G and 4G, knowing what they mean for their user experience may be another matter entirely. Although it is now obsolete, 1G indicated the first generation of mobile networks. With technology companies continuing to develop and improve mobile phone connectivity, the industry has given us 2G, 3G and 4G and we now have access to 5G, the latest generation of mobile networks.
When the mobile phone was first invented, the devices only had the capability to carry out phone calls. The first basic models were a world away from what is now possible. With an estimated 6.8 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2022, the market continues to grow, and users’ expectations are higher than ever.
Mobile phone users no longer use their devices simply to message or make calls. These days, mobile phones fulfill a wide range of functions; browsing the internet to catch up on news, making purchases and even gaming, as users play role player games, puzzle games, and mobile-friendly online table games. It is crucial that up-to-date mobile phones can accommodate these needs, whether it’s depositing cryptocurrency on gambling platforms, facilitating the 3D graphics, or running the entire gaming experience smoothly.
Given the mobile phone industry’s drive to meet these high standards, it is reasonable to expect 5G technology to deliver an exceptional user experience. However, is this definitely the case?
What Are the Differences Between 4G and 5G?
There is a vast difference between the capability of 5G in comparison to its predecessor, with superior download speeds and latency. Theoretically 4G can deliver download speeds of up to 150Mbps, although as traffic and proximity to transmitter masts play a role, speeds are more likely to reach around 20Mbps.
5G, on the other hand, is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 10Gbps, which could translate to speeds up to a hundred times faster than 4G. In today’s society, when users expect almost instantaneous results, these speeds can allow users to download films to their devices within seconds.
Another key factor is latency which indicates the length of time that it takes data to travel between two points. High latency can result in a sluggish network. The low latency of 5G is a significant upgrade on 4G; with average latency of between 36 – 48 milliseconds for 4G, 5G offers theoretical latency of up to 1 millisecond.
How Does 5G Benefit from Network Slicing?
The term network slicing refers to the ability of 5G to separate and dedicate sections of the network to different actions. Individual slices cannot influence the performance of others, so while one slice may govern gaming, another could handle internet browsing, and high levels of traffic on one slice will not impact the other.
The Drawbacks of 5G
As impressive as the capabilities of 5G undoubtedly are, there are obstacles which have to be overcome to fulfil its potential. The initial costs of installing and maintaining 5G are high in comparison to 4G, with a significant outlay required to bring existing infrastructure up to the required standard. This cost means that while 5G’s current coverage in cities and built-up areas is generally consistent, it is limited in more rural areas.
In comparison to 4G, the frequency waves used by 5G are only capable of travelling short distances and they are less able to navigate around physical obstructions such as buildings or trees. This challenge has to be met by extending current cell towers.
In addition, not every mobile phone is compatible with the 5G network. While considerable investment in infrastructure is required to improve the coverage, further investment in mobile phone technology is just as crucial to ensure all consumers can access the network. Those devices which can access 5G also lose battery life quickly, a problem which will need to be addressed as mobile technology continues to develop.
Could 4G and 5G Form the Ideal Partnership?
The increased network coverage of 4G means that 5G will inevitably have to depend on 4G as the network evolves. As the two networks operate on different frequencies, they are not necessarily competition for each other and may actually enhance the user experience if they work together. The future of network connectivity could be greatly improved by them coexisting.
4G is more than capable of meeting most users’ needs, such as internet browsing and low-quality video streaming. It would be inefficient to use 5G for these purposes and result in increased costs. However, 5G can support applications which require increased levels of data transfer; virtual reality, for example, is now becoming more tangible and immersive as mobile phone technology advances.
With 4G’s extensive coverage, there are no plans for disabling the infrastructure which will continue to serve a valuable purpose. It is more advantageous to facilitate a relationship between the two.
While the advent of 5G technology is truly exciting and offers countless possibilities for the future of mobile phones, it must be acknowledged that there is a fair way to go before 5G reaches the levels of coverage currently available for its predecessor. Existing infrastructure needs to be upgraded, while mobile phone companies have a responsibility to ensure that users can access the 5G network. If these requirements are prioritized, there is no reason why 5G cannot, one day, become as widespread as 4G and fulfill its potential.