5G vs. 4G: how many improvements does the new generation bring? | Digital Trends Spanish
The fifth generation of mobile networks has arrived and is becoming more prominent by the day, even though the pandemic still persists and recent unfounded rumors about the dangers of 5G remain the order of the day. But the truth is that this new coverage could change the way we use mobile technology. In this sense, is it worth upgrading to a 5G phone? How much difference is there between 5G vs. 4G?
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With the rise of remote work in 2020 and 2021, the rollout of this new network coverage may be faster than we had anticipated as more activities move online. The three main service providers in the US have already implemented their networks nationwide and are ready to expand and improve their implementation in the coming years.
5G speed vs. 4G
The main improvement of 5G is speed, but there is no specific speed that we can expect. Instead, think that the 5G network will offer a range of speeds, although actual speeds will depend on the network you’re connecting to, how busy it is, the device you’re using, and other factors. This table gives you a rough idea of the maximum speeds for each generation of cellular network technology and the actual average speeds.
|Generation||2 G||3G||3G HSPA +||4G||4G LTE-A||5G|
|Maximum speed||0.3 Mbps||7.2 Mbps||42 Mbps||150 Mbps||300 Mbps-1 Gbps||1-10 Gbps|
|Average speed||0.1 Mbps||1.5 Mbps||5 Mbps||10 Mbps||15 Mbps-50 Mbps||50 Mbps and more|
The issue is complicated by the variety of technologies used in each generation, geographic differences in coverage, and the fact that technology continues to evolve and improve over time. For example, 4G has significantly improved during its lifetime with the development of LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and then LTE-A (Long-Term Evolution Advanced).
Theoretically you can get up to 1Gbps with the latest 4G LTE-A developments, which is the lower end of what 5G hopes to deliver. The actual average speeds that will be obtained will inevitably be much lower.
To put that speed in context, 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) is 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second). Although they may seem the same, megabits are different from megabytes, there are 8 megabits (Mb) in a megabyte (MB). Therefore, 1 Gbps translates to 125 MB per second.
An MP3 file can be 5MB, while a TV episode can be 350MB, and a Blu-Ray movie can be 15GB (15,000MB) or more. If you really have a 1Gbps connection, you could download a Full HD resolution Blu-Ray movie in two minutes.
While 4G is still improving, the speed you get, realistically, is between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps. If you look at Netflix’s recommendations for speeds of streaming, we see that it recommends 25 Mbps for Ultra HD resolution.
You only need 5 Mbps for HD. The goal with 5G is to achieve at least 50 Mbps on average. It’s always nice to have faster speeds, but that’s not really the big attraction with 5G because 4G speeds are already pretty good. What is not good with 4G is latency.
5G latency vs. 4G
Latency is the time it takes for your device’s data to load and reach its goal. Measures the time it takes for data to go from source to destination in milliseconds (ms). It is very important for applications such as games, where response time can be important in the result.
It could also be vital for autonomous cars if the data is transmitted to the cloud, and quick decisions can trigger a reaction to slow down or avoid an obstacle in real time. Latency improvements could be the real driver behind 5G adoption, but there are many challenges ahead.
With 4G networks, the average latency is around 50 ms. That could drop to 1ms with 5G technology. To give you an idea, it takes at least 10 ms for an image seen by the human eye to be processed by the brain. Low latency is vital for real-time reactions on machines or cars and could also make cloud gaming possible.
Players could play through their cell phones with remote hardware, as suggested by services like Stadia of Google. 1 ms is what you can aspire to, as it is what is possible in near-perfect scenarios. The average latency that can be expected in 5G will probably be around 10ms.
5G coverage vs. 4G
4G networks have taken years to spread around the world and there are still many rural areas that depend on 3G networks. Even where there is 4G coverage, speeds vary quite a bit.
We can expect 5G networks to take a while to reach everyone and implementation will follow a similar pattern to 4G, with cities being the first to benefit. We tested Verizon’s 5G network in Chicago, but it covers few places at the moment.
Verizon employs millimeter wave (mmWave) technology, which requires the deployment of many 5G nodes because the signals have a very short range and are easily blocked by walls. While AT&T is also planning to use mmWave technology, T-Mobile and Sprint are planning to start with low-band spectrum.
It has a better reach and doesn’t lock up as easily, but it can’t reach the same high speeds. Regardless of the underlying technology, logistically there is a lot of work to be done to build 5G networks and it will likely take years.
Other differences between 5G and 4G
So that we can take advantage of the Advantages of 5G network, we not only need operators to start up network equipment, but also buy devices that are capable of supporting 5G, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
Your current cell phone will not be able to enjoy 5G speeds. The first 5G smartphones arrive this year. It’s also worth noting that possibly 5G technology is much more demanding in terms of power, so battery life, which is already a problem for many, could be about to get worse.
5G does not mean that 4G disappears
Many of us continue to rely on the 3G network when 4G is not available and that is exactly what will happen with 5G. The idea that 5G is a direct replacement for 4G is wrong, in fact it is a complementary technology. With the two working together, we should be able to get good speeds wherever we are.
It’s also important to remember that carriers continue to upgrade 4G networks and both download speed and latency can be further improved. Sadly, AT&T decided to call the latest 4G advancements 5GE (5G Evolution). It is a deliberate attempt to deceive, so don’t be fooled. Many operators did the exact same thing with HSPA +, an improved 3G technology they called 4G.
True 5G networks will begin to roll out this year starting in major cities and there will be a handful of cell phones that can be tapped, but most of us are still at least a year or two away from power. access 5G. Meanwhile, 4G will continue to serve us well.