If you spend a lot of time on your phone and you’ve got the need for speed, the rollout of 5G should be music to you ears.
The industry has been touting the consumer benefits for years, but while 5G is finally here, it’s still got a long way to go.
This is the third in a series of stories on 5G which explains what the new mobile wireless technology is all about and shows just how quick it really is.
The promise versus the reality
There are only a handful of devices on the market that have the requisite antennas and chipsets to operate on Telstra’s 5G network. If you’re buying through Telstra (the only Aussie telco to have switched on a 5G network for mobile customer thus far) then you’ll end up with a 5G phone from Samsung or rising Chinese smartphone maker Oppo.
We took the Oppo Reno 5G out for a spin in Sydney and Canberra to see how the 5G network compared to its 4G predecessor.
If you can find a 5G connection, it certainly dwarfs 4G when it comes to download speeds. In both cities it was possible to consistently get about 400 to 500 megabits per second (Mbps) compared to about 40 to 50 on 4G.
That means downloading apps, podcasts and video media in the blink of an eye.
Telstra claims you should be able to get download speeds of between 1200 and 1600 Mps on its mobile network - but that clearly isn’t the case yet.
The video below shows concurrent speed tests on 4G and 5G in Sydney’s CBD.
4G versus 5G at Sydney's Town Hall. pic.twitter.com/TuPI8GlbeJ— Nick Whigham (@NWWhigham) July 20, 2019
In other markets, like the US for example, early 5G networks have been hitting much higher speeds.
The Wall Street Journal tested different carriers in cities around the country this week and was able to get a whopping 1800 Mbps download speeds on Verizon’s 5G network.
That was fast enough to download the entire new season of Stranger Things on Netflix in 34 seconds.
Australian customers have struggled to get anywhere near those type of super fast speeds yet, but as Telstra (and later Optus and Vodafone) continue to improve their networks, we should get closer in the coming years.
For now, a recent global survey showed that Australia is the only country with a 5G network that can struggle to outpace 4G.
5G is also tipped to solve any congestion issues on current mobile networks.
Still a long way to go for full promise of 5G
Even in parts of Sydney’s CBD it can be hard to find a 5G connection, so early adopters should remember that coverage is patchy.
“5G is adopting a similar staggered rollout to 4G, so it will be years before it’s widespread,” says finder.com.au tech expert Alex Kidman.
“What many people don’t realise is that there are areas in Australia where 4G isn’t yet available, and that phone manufacturers still sell 3G-only handsets.”
It’s for this reason that tech giant Apple is not rushing to come to market with a 5G handset. It’s expected the iPhone maker won’t even release a 5G smartphone until late 2020 when the technology is more available around the world.
But in the meantime, it gives rivals like Samsung and Oppo a chance to steal market share by attracting customers who dream of high speed downloads.
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