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The Reality Of 5G 

5G World

So you are sitting on a park bench in a Sydney suburb flipping through the Google Play Store for a game and decide upon PUBG. The game is 2.046 GB and takes less than a minute to download which is far quicker than the nearly 6 minutes it would take to download it using an office broadband connection. This is thanks to 5G and if you think this is the future, it is very nearly the present. 5G has been hailed as the next big tech revolution that will power everything from self-driving cars to smart cities.

Faster mobile network

The technology promises to be a mobile network that is faster, smarter and more responsive and has just begun to be rolled out in Australia. The 5G stakes in Australia are particularly high, given that 4G is world-class and broadband leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, many people in the country think that 5G could well end up being a replacement for traditional broadband. Technically speaking we have already entered the age of 5G with mobile carriers in the United States already offering 5G phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

Not yet reached the promised land

We are yet to reach the promised land and are still in the early days of 5G technology which loosely translated means there are significant teething issues. As far as Netflix goes for example Netflix doesn’t seem to differentiate yet between 4G or 5G and it has nothing to do with the fact that Netflix has yet to be optimised for 5G in Australia so we will have to see how that plays out over time. If we take 4G out of the equation, 5G in Australia remains inconsistent but there is a silver lining, a 2.04GB download of PUBG is doable in under 2 minutes which as we said earlier is much faster than traditional broadband.

Wait until coverage is consistent

5G is also very limited in the parts of the country where it is available and it will be a while before blazing fast internet connections are the norm making it not worthwhile investing. Before purchasing a 5G device it would be advisable to wait until there is consistent coverage across wide areas. It is possible to use 5G today and it is thrilling to see how fast the speeds can get, but it is not useful because the coverage simply isn’t wide enough yet.

Slower than advertised speeds

If we fast forward a couple of years and assume 5G coverage is widespread, there are still a couple of concerns. Expected peak speeds even on a congested network of 500Mbps are incredible and are five times as fast as current and excellent 4G speeds and roughly 50 times faster than traditional broadband connections. The speeds will indeed be futuristic but are still not the kind of speeds that have been promised. We have all seen the demonstrations on Twitter of 1.5 to 2GBbps plus speeds and obviously there is quite a wide gulf between 500Mbps and 2Gbps.

Not cheap to upgrade

Some industry folk have even claimed 5G could deliver speeds of between 20 to 30Gbps and as coverage today seems far off, so too do the promised peak speeds. It might seem petty to complain about 500Mbps but remember, upgrading to 5G won’t be cheap. You will have to fork over lots of cash for a new device and of course tariffs will be more expensive than what people are paying today. If you are paying 5G prices, then it is more than fair to expect true 5G performance.

Unlimited data will probably be necessary

Currently the fattest plans on the market offer 150GB of data a month, but in Australia, the average subscriber has 10GB limit according to Finder, with most plans offering anywhere between 10GB and 50GB. Whilst it is almost impossible to burn through 50GB just by using social media, sending emails and streaming YouTube on 4G, with 5G speed there is an incentive to use it as 5G, especially when speeds are much faster than traditional broadband by a significant margin. This means data will have to drop in price for super-fast speeds to be truly useful and convenient. Yes, we now have 5G and it is terribly exciting, but the party only starts once coverage is ubiquitous and data plans get much bigger or indeed unlimited.