Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Are you 5G ready? Five things to know about fifth generation - coming to your mobile phone very soon...

Are you 5G ready? Five things to know about fifth generation - coming to your mobile phone very soon...

| By Olena Pfirsch

5G-enabled phones have started appearing in stores across the UK but are you 5G ready?

Here are five things you’ll need to know about 5G...

What is 5G?

5G stands for fifth generation and is set to be rolled out across the whole of the UK in 2020.

It has already appeared in the capitals and the major cities of Manchester and Birmingham.

It is the next step on from 4G.

Compared to 4G, 5G uses a higher radio frequency and has a broader range (bandwidth) to send wireless communication signals.

How much faster will 5G be?

Since 5G has more bandwidth it can boast a boosted speed of up to 1Gbps (gigabits per second) and only 1 millisecond signal delay– 10 times faster than the current 4G.

According to EE, 5G will complement the 4G network they already have ‘adding another layer’ so that busy areas of the UK will have more capacity for devices connecting to the mobile network.

The greater bandwidth also means that operators can ‘slice’ the network to dedicate specific frequencies to specific tasks.

If 4G is a three lane motorway with people driving through and overtaking each other, 5G is a smart motorway with four lanes open, one dedicated to those making phone calls and another lane dedicated to those surfing the internet (although not while driving!).

What can we do on 5G?

Three words: remote control surgery.

Due its fast speeds, doctors in China have already successfully conducted heart surgery on a patient who was over 400km away.

This means that leading medical specialists won’t have to waste time travelling from one country to another if a patient is in need of emergency surgery; universal healthcare indeed.

An at home benefit is faster streaming times for online gaming and more instantaneous responses from self-driving cars.

Where is 5G?

EE is currently the only network to have gone live with 5G in the capital cities and Manchester and Birmingham. Their plan is to add 10 more cities, including Liverpool, Leeds, Hull and others, by the end of the year.

Vodafone is set to follow suit from July 3 after testing their ‘blast pod’ out at Manchester Airport when passengers waiting for flights could download the entire series two of ‘Tin Star’ in six minutes- taking just over 40 seconds an episode.

4G needs 26 minutes to download the series. 

Sounds great! But what does it mean for my phone bill?

EE’s cheapest pay monthly deal for 5G starts at £54 a month for 5G smart plan (an extra £100 is paid up front for the phone- you have an option of five that will be 5G ready).

Previous Generations

1G

First generation wireless cellular technology is the analogue network that was introduced in the 1980’s along with the ‘brick’ mobile phones that had a terrible battery life and could only be used for making calls.

2G

The second generation is where everything went digital, advancing on phone calls and bringing SMS text messages into the mix. The UK’s first text message was sent via Vodafone in December 1992 and read ‘Merry Christmas’.

3G

Third generation is when mobile internet access meant that everyone started walking around with a computer in their pocket.

4G

Fourth generation succeeded the third with a faster internet speed and supported HD streaming and gaming services.