5G hype: Fact or fiction?
We’ve all heard about 5G, but if you’ve been living under a rock, then here’s a quick explanation: 5G is the latest mobile network technology, supposedly up to 100 times faster than 4G.
3G vs 4G vs 5G download speeds – supposedly. Source.
You knew all that already, thanks to the massive hype surrounding the technology. It seems as if there has been a years-long massive campaign surrounding the technology, trying to convince us that it is the greatest invention ever known to man. The latest rendition of this marketing campaign is the 5G Future Forum, a group of giant telcos around the world (including Telstra) that have banded together to accelerate 5G adoption around the globe.
But 5G is available right now in Australia from both Telstra and Optus, and Vodafone plans on launching sometime this year. This means you have the opportunity to test out the technology yourself and separate fact from fiction.
I have, and I’m not impressed.
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My 5G experience so far
5G requires a lot of expenses – you will either have to upgrade your current smartphone to a 5G compatible phone, or get a 5G wireless broadband device. Either way, you’ll spend some money – a lot of money.
This year will see a flood of 5G smartphones from the major manufacturers, but you don’t have to wait for them. Smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G are already available and can give you a taste of the new technology.
But those smartphones don’t come cheap – the Galaxy S10 5G will cost you over $1,500 from Telstra, or $66 per month for 24 months.
For such an expensive upgrade, you would expect to see a major difference between current 4G networks and phones, and the latest 5G network and phones. But, from my experience, that is not the case.
I have a 5G phone and it is simply a waste of time. It’s larger and heavier than 4G alternatives, and just too expensive. I am on the Telstra 5G mobile network, and I can’t get 5G coverage anywhere. When I do, it’s only a bit faster than 4G.
Also, Telstra are talking about charging more for 5G in June of this year – an additional $15 per month just to use a network that’s far from complete. Unless they dramatically improve their coverage, that will be an even bigger waste of time.
Why is 5G under-performing?
Well, 5G is a brand new technology. Telstra just started turning on 5G sites last year, and so did Optus. Vodafone hasn’t even turned on any 5G sites yet, and only recently announced that they’ve partnered with Nokia to begin rolling out their 5G network at some point this year.
As one would expect, such a brand new technology is bound to have some issues. So far, Telstra and Optus 5G are only available in select areas. As a result, your experience will likely be like mine, unless you’re standing right on a 5G site.
In other words, until 5G is fully rolled out and developed, there’s really no point in spending the money required right now just to get disappointed.
So when will 5G be fully developed?
Answering this question depends on the network and the country in question. Here in Australia, Telstra aims to have rolled out 5G in 35 cities by the end of fiscal year 2020. Optus has around 300 sites across Australia so far, and is touting the possibility of its 5G speeds getting even faster when it deploys 2300MHz spectrum.
Also, throughout this year, several 5G smartphones will be released from a variety of manufacturers. That means the competition will increase, and so you can expect to find some cheap 5G smartphones on the market.
Considering these facts, 5G might be a better investment next year than it is right now. Cheaper 5G phones and service availability in many more areas (and, hopefully, faster 5G speeds) make next year a better choice.
Final words – Who should try 5G right now?
Early adopters will be interested in 5G, and might as well try it out if they haven’t already. Early adopters are consumers who like to try out the latest technologies and gadgets, even when they aren’t fully developed.
If you’re a first adopter and you have a lot of money to spend, then go right ahead. For everyone else, do yourself a favour – don’t get 5G just yet.