*This is a collaborative post.
Waltham Abbey and Wickford have been the latest areas in Essex connected to a 5G network recently, bringing the total number of connected locations in the county up to seven. Joining over a hundred 5G centers throughout the UK now upgraded to the latest hardware, Essex stands as one of the better-supported regions.
So far, 5G in the UK is offered over seven total mobile carriers. These include BT Mobile, EE, O2, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone, and VOXI. Unlike older connection protocols like 4G, 5G towers tend to operate over multiple carriers, meaning easier access for end-users.
As a technology, 5G tends to be confusing to those without a knowledge of how connections work. It’s not as complicated as it first seems, however. To help our readers along with this, we want to go the basics of what 5G is, and how it might, or might not, change the way you use the mobile internet.
5G’s Improvements over 4G
The details of 5G are generally pretty simple. In most ways, it’s an expansion on 4G and older 3G network capabilities. The main advantages here come in terms of speed and possible connected users, though it does have some limitations in range.
In terms of speed, the most appreciable difference comes from bandwidth, the maximum data which can be sent and received per second. In theory, 5G can operate up to 100 times faster than 4G in this area, though in practice speeds are often a lot slower. Also helping here are reductions in latency, the amount of time it takes a signal to make a round trip. Less waiting after a click, in other words.
The final big advantage, that of maximum connected users, is not likely to affect the people of Essex. With 5G, up to a million people can be connected per tower. Seeing as the population of Essex is around 1.8 million, we’re unlikely to pushing up against that barrier soon.
For downsides, the limits of 5G’s range and penetration can be a killer. 5G has an active radius of around 300 meters compared to 4G’s ten miles. Couple that with a poor ability to go through trees or walls, and 5G only really excels in an urban outdoor environment, at least so far.
What Can You Use 5G For?
For most users, 5G isn’t going to be a conscious thing that you turn on when you use a 5G capable phone or other mobile device. Rather, it could simply mean that your mobile experience gets a little smoother in most online applications, though often at an imperceptible level.
When it comes to watching videos, the biggest difference could be experienced if viewing ultra-high-resolution movies at high frame rates. Some YouTube and Hulu shows offer these types of videos, though they are rare. In practical terms, you generally won’t be watching this level of resolution on a mobile screen anyway, so the point is moot.
For browsing and smaller web games like those from online casinos or downloadable apps, a similar story holds. Take Vegas Slots for example, where collecting bonuses and playing means both browsing and loading software. Titles here like Star Trek and Cleopatra are already more than catered to on 4G, so 5G wouldn’t offer much of anything. In fact, in these cases, even 3G is usually more than enough. This is due to the simple, yet effective, software behind titles like slots, as well as the pre-loaded in-game dynamics such as free spins and generated response graphics.
One form of higher-requirement gaming that does benefit from 5G comes from streaming services like Stadia and Project xCloud. While not widespread yet in gaming, these do have enormous requirements in bandwidth and low latency, so this is one area where the tech proves an outright necessity.
For most other uses, the biggest effect that 5G could have is in sharing connections via mobile hotspots. Whether connecting between friends or business users, the ability to share a single connection over multiple people would become much more viable over 5G. Though this is again not a typical use-case, it could still prove helpful for some.
Ultimately, 5G in Essex and the UK as a whole is just as much about looking forward as it is about serving customers now. Every year, data requirements for mobile systems grow, and 5G lets networks futureproof for what comes next. Better to plan ahead and never be left wanting, is the idea. As for how long it will take before most users actually see an appreciable difference from 5G in their daily lives, that remains to be seen.