There’s a growing swell of talk about 5G this and 5G that but 4G data speeds are pretty good, especially here in Australia. So why do we need 5G LTE? How is 5G LTE better than 4G?

Well if you’re after an actual technical explanation to those questions we’ve got you covered in this introductory guide to 5G post. For a more descriptive answer though let’s dig in.

How Is 5G LTE Better Than 4G?

While 4G is fantastic and can get you speeds of around 50-200 Mbps down, there’s a number of issues that both users and carriers still struggle with.

Now none of them will stop you from watching a YouTube video or chatting with your mates but with 5G LTE you’ll be able to do those things noticeably quicker. You’ll also be able to do a number of new things too.

This is due to two main differences: more bandwidth and lower latency.

Source: MKBHD

For technical reasons, 5G simply has more spectrum to use which means it can send and receive data packets faster than 4G. A lot faster. There’s already fully rolled out, working today 5G mobile towers that are giving people download speeds of 1,500+ Mbps. That’s awesome. But the ITU specs for 5G actually go all the way up to 20,000 Mbps!

The second part is the much lower latency. If you’re a gamer of any type you’ll no doubt be well aware of latency, but for those that aren’t, latency is basically the time it takes for your computer/smartphone to send a signal to the Internet and back.

Sure, you might be able to download at speeds of 20 Gbps… but if you have terrible latency it’ll still seem “slow” as most modern day web pages heavily rely on many smaller files rather than big multi gigabyte files.

Think of it like the amount of time it takes for someone to respond back to you when you talk to them. If you said “hello” to someone and they just stood there staring blankly at you for a few seconds and then replied “hi!” back it wouldn’t make for a great experience! 

Various latency speeds. Source: cablefree.net

With 5G LTE the latency will be reduced upwards of 10x meaning when you click a link on a web page or press play on a video it’ll load/start 10 times as quick as 4G.

There are also other reasons 5G is better than 4G but for us users at least, download/upload speeds and latency will be two of the biggest benefits.

What Can I Use 5G LTE For?

So if we transport ourselves into the future by 5 years or so, when 5G roll outs are mostly covering everywhere, what new technology will 5G LTE enable? What will we be doing with 5G that we can’t do with 4G right now?

Well obviously we’ll be downloading bulk data much quicker. If we want to watch a YouTube video in 4K 60fps it’ll not only start quicker due to the lower latency, but then also download the whole thing faster too.

Downloading big games, movies, TV series, email attachments, app updates etc, it’ll all be near instantaneous or at most a few tens of seconds. Playing mobile games – or games on laptops connected via 5G – will be a much better experience too.

With the home broadband level latency speeds you’ll be able to play AAA competitive e-sports style games. You’ll also likely be able to replace your entire home broadband connection with a 5G enabled modem/router.

This could mean more competition in an otherwise monopoly/duopoly type area, something that’s very common in the US. Beyond these uses though there’s 5G enabled, mobile, free-roam VR.

This would enable you to have a backpack PC (or headset/PC in one) and use any open space to freely roam around in VR. You could pop down to your local football field, pop on a headset, connect to a game server via 5G and start literally running around playing VR CS-Go.

Even more future tech promises 5G remote surgery and 5G connected self driving cars. The real use cases though likely haven’t been invented yet as what billions of people will do with multi-gigabit download speeds and sub 10 ms latency is anyone’s guess!

Personally I just hope it finally puts an end to data plans like what you see now with home broadband. Perhaps in 5+ years time phone plans will be priced not on how much data you’re allowed, but how fast you can download/upload!

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