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What Is 5G?
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5G is the fifth generation of cell phone internet technology. 5G will increase internet speeds dramatically and max out at download speeds of 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). This means you can download YouTube videos faster, your Safari will search faster, and Candy Crush will run smoother than if you were to use 4G.
If you’ve come here, you’re likely using 4G now and you’re wanting to find out if upgrading to a 5G smartphone is worth it. The 4G network is more widely available and almost every phone supports it. But it’s 100 times slower than 5G with its download speeds capping at a max of 100 Mbps.
We’re here to tell you that once you go 5G, you won’t go back. So, let’s get into the details of what a 5G network can offer you.
Typical 4G speeds range around 10–20 Mbps, enough to stream an HD movie on Netflix. With 5G, you can stream 400 Netflix movies at a time in 4K. (Finally, you can use those 400 TVs you have lying around.)
How does 5G work?
AT&T, and other cellular companies, understand what 5G service provides. This is why big cellular networks, like Verizon and AT&T, have invested billions of dollars in the rollout of 5G networks.
5G offers you low latency and peak data speeds so you don’t have to worry about video buffering or your apps taking too long to load.
With 5G, you can expect reduced signal interference and increased availability. You’ll be able to get a connection almost anywhere you go in the city.
You don’t want to stream Red Notice just to find that it pauses every few minutes to load. Nor do you want to have your internet connection run slow while you’re working because you have multiple tabs open or many systems operating at once. 5G will solve these issues.
When it comes to response time, 5G can download files 2x faster than 4G can. Most 4G signals travel at 20 to 160 MHz (megahertz). 5G signals, on the other hand, can range from 100 to 800 MHz. This allows the signal to be stronger, plus high frequencies travel faster, giving 5G much higher speeds than 4G.
Essentially, 5G technology is designed to transfer data more efficiently than ever. Think of it like adding lanes to a freeway. You’re helping more cars travel at once. It’s the same here—with this improved bandwidth data can travel much quicker.
What can 5G do?
Dream big with us for a second.
Imagine self-driving cars that communicate with one another seamlessly, robotic surgeries controlled remotely by expert surgeons in a different country, photorealistic VR experiences from the comfort of your home—this will all be possible with 5G technology in the future. How cool is that? But first, let’s take a step back at what 5G can do for us today.
5G promises to bring faster connection speeds and better internet. With 5G, you’ll get an immersive, crisp picture when you watch a football game. AT&T says you’ll feel like you’re in the stadium or arena. If we can’t afford two Super Bowl tickets at $12,000 total (gasp), then we guess this is the next best option.
Your daily Zoom calls will have less lag and are less likely to freeze your face in the middle of an important meeting. If you can’t go to a concert, 5G makes it possible to give you a live 3D augmented reality experience. Doctors can also collect data rapidly to make quicker decisions for patients because of the speedy 5G network.
And we’re just scratching the surface here.
To get all of this amazingness, you’ll need a 5G-enabled device to access 5G. For example, most of the latest smartphones—like the iPhone 12–13 and Samsung Galaxy S21—are compatible with the ultrafast 5G network.
You can also get 5G with newer laptop models, home devices, and other new gadgets.
Where is 5G available?
So far, T-Mobile/Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon are the only mobile networks that offer nationwide 5G coverage.
These providers offer 5G in at least 85% of the US (but that will most likely increase in the near future). Find out if 5G is available near you with these 5G availability maps:
How soon will 5G be widely available?
Like we said above, only T-Mobile/Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon offer nationwide 5G coverage at the moment.
Other cell phone providers are slowly rolling out 5G around the country, so it’s only a matter of time until 5G is standard.
One of the holdups is that every city receiving 5G needs to build new cell towers capable of transmitting signals at faster speeds. And those cell towers need to be in closer proximity to your location to facilitate higher frequencies.
It’s like having an electric car—it runs more efficiently than other cars, but you need to live closer to a charging station than you would otherwise.
But it’s predicted that 5G will be widely available in 2025.
How can I use 5G?
You’ll need a 5G device before you can start using a 5G connection. Just like providers racing to support a 5G network, phone makers like Apple, Samsung, and Android want to get their devices ahead of the curve.
Before you buy a new 5G smartphone, we recommend that you double-check with your provider if you’re in an area that supports 5G.
If you’re currently using a phone that only supports 3G, we highly recommend you at least upgrade to a phone that supports 4G.
Why? Because 3G will be sunsetting in the first half of 2022.