How Does 5G Internet Work?

Everything you need to know about 5G internet

Chyelle Dvorak
Contributing Writer, VPNs
Read More
February 24, 2022
4 min read

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Chances are you’ve heard something about the 5G internet. There’s so much out there about it, but what is it actually?

5G stands for the fifth generation of the internet. It’s been around a couple years now, since 2018. Ever since the creation of 5G, large tech companies have really pushed for products that support the latest generation of internet. 5G promises to bring faster connection speeds and better internet overall.1

If you’re wondering what is 5G and how does it work? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll chat about the basics of 5G and help you understand what it really is and what it does.

What is 5G internet and how does it work?

What’s different about 5G compared to 4G internet is how it works. The internet works by using radio frequencies. 4G internet uses frequencies that are typically under 6 GHz, while 5G uses a frequency that’s as high as 30 GHz.

The higher frequency makes 5G faster, more reliable, and it works with less latency (the delay between a request and the action being performed). The goal of 5G is to make your connection on your phone so incredibly fast, it’s almost like you're connected to the internet at home. 5G can also be connected to more devices than 4G LTE networks. You can imagine why the tech companies jumping to get their hands on 5G products.

How fast is fast? Some say that 5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G; a major increase in internet speed.2 No wonder the 5G advertisements are everywhere.

Do I need 5G internet?

If you have a ton of tech in your home, you’re constantly hosting meetings, and you already experience slow connection with 4G, then you might want to upgrade. However, most people can function fine on 4G connection and the upgrade isn’t necessary. It’s really up to you.

As more and more devices come out with 5G, it’s bound to become the norm. Pretty soon, tech companies will stop making devices that support 4G altogether. As so many people are still working from home, technology continues to grow at exponential rates.

That being said, even though 5G has been around a couple years, 4G isn’t going anywhere. Plenty of cities and devices still operate using 4G. Discussions of possible health risks led some countries to ban 5G (India, Sweden, and Switzerland are a few examples).3 As time goes on, the number of countries accepting 5G continues to grow.

Is 5G just for my phone?

No, 5G isn’t just for your phone. While phones were the first devices to start using 5G, there are many other products that use it now. New laptops, home devices, and other new gadgets that have the ability to connect to the network. One new example is the Lenovo Flex, a business laptop that runs on 5G. If you’re curious, you can just check your device and see what yours says.

How can I get 5G internet?

In order to use 5G, there are three steps that need to be in place.

First, you have to live in an area where it’s installed. Most major cities in the US already have strong 5G signals. You can always search your city online to find out if there’s 5G near you.

Second, you need to make sure your ISP provides 5G. Some providers still don’t have 5G available, but many of the big names do. As of now, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all provide 5G internet connections.

Third, the last step is to make sure the device you use has the ability to connect to it. Remember, you can go to your network settings to check.

Now that all your devices will connect much easier, here’s some info on how to protect them. The last thing you want to worry about (with any device) is hackers stealing your personal information. Check out our reviews of the best VPN services to learn more about online safety.

FAQ

Want to know more about 5G internet or using VPNs? We've got you covered.

What are the disadvantages of 5G network?

There's no doubt that faster speeds, reduced latency, and increased bandwidth are major pluses for 5G network, but what are the drawbacks? The biggest hurdle when it comes to 5G really comes down to access. Industry trade group GSMA believes just half of cellular connections will be 5G by 2025.1 

Is 5G better than Wifi?

The simple answer? It depends. The speed and performance of both wifi and 5G are impacted by how many users are on the network as well as proximity to the network's base station. For 5G, this means how many bars you have can influence performance and speed.4 And for wifi, its performance can be impacted by how many of your family members are online or the number of neighbors using the same network.

Because of its capacity to serve more users most efficiently at a lower cost, wifi will probably continue to be the go-to choice for home and business services; however, 5G's longer range and increased speeds indicate there's a good chance 5G will become the favored network for mobile devices and smart technology.4

Additional reading

Sources

  1. Clare Duffy CNN, “What Is 5G? Your Questions Answered," March 6, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  2. Thales Group, “5G Versus 4G, What’s the Difference?” August 8, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  3. William Goddard, “Where Is 5G Available?” November 12, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  4. Intel Technologies, "5G vs. Wi-Fi 6: A Powerful Combination for Wireless" March 16, 2020. Accessed February 24, 2022.
Chyelle Dvorak
Written by
Chyelle Dvorak
Chyelle works as a freelance writer for The Daily Beast and edited articles for Forbes, Inc.com, Fox News and other review sites. Chyelle tests, writes, and researches products and services related to internet consumption. She found her passion for public speaking and writing in her childhood when she won the Voice of Democracy speech and essay competition. Chyelle has a degree in International Relations from Crown College, Minnesota. Outside of work, Chyelle loves to spend time reading, kayaking, and running.

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