5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for cellular broadband networks. In telecommunications, the cellular phone companies began rolling out a 5G network in 2019. It is the planned successor to the 4G network that can be connected to the most modern cell phones. By 2025, it is expected that there will be 1.7 billion users of 5G across the globe. The 5G network, like its predecessors, is a cellular network in which the service area is divided into cells that are small geographical areas.
In a cell, all 5G wireless devices are connected to the Internet and the telephone network using radio waves through a local antenna. As compared to the 4G network, the 5G network is expected to have higher download speeds such as 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). Also, 5G is having higher bandwidth which means more devices can be connected without interruption in connectivity, especially in crowded areas.
Exactly How Fast Is 5G?
For years, the craze for the 5G network has been growing steadily. All of the major US 5G carriers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T have rolled out their initial nationwide networks. They are on the verge of seriously expanding the capabilities and reach of the 5G network. As compared to the 4G network, 5G has many potential advantages but the speed of 5G is still a question.
The truth about the 5G speed depends on many factors such as your location, the 5G network you are connecting to, and how many people are connected to the network. Also, the 5G-enabled device you are using affects the speed of the 5G network.
5G Speed In Theory
The theoretical top speeds of 5G are pretty groundbreaking. However, we still have a long way to go before we can achieve the kind of top speed in the real world while excluding the factor of the type of connected device.
Depending on the coverage of the 5G network, the download speed can range from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps. Latency, on the other hand, can be as low as 1 millisecond (ms). It is the time in which data is sent across the network.
That does not mean much in isolation, so here is a table comparing the theoretical 5G speeds to different generations of wireless networks:
300 Mbps – 1 Gbps
1 – 10 Gbps
15 Mbps – 50 Mbps
50 Mbps and up
The average speeds of different generations of the network are approximate and depend on the technology that complicates the results. However, the network has evolved over the years, and still, it continues to grow. Also, there has been a problem of mislabeling done by the carriers. For example, some carriers labeled HSPA+ as 4G, which is a 3G technology.
Theoretically, the latest speed of 4G LTE-A can go up to 1 Gbps which expands into the 5G territory. However, these speeds are still not available everywhere at the moment.
Real-World 5G Download Speeds
The download speeds vary depending on the type of 5G you are connected to. 5G is made up of a few different frequency bands. Sub-6, also known as the low-band spectrum, can travel long distances and traverse obstacles. However, it offers a slower speed even with a 5G network connection. Conversely, the high-band mm Wave spectrum provides lightning-fast download speeds. In this case, the radio waves cannot travel far and through the obstacles.
The currently available nationwide 5G network is based on a low-band spectrum. Also, there are mm Wave hotspots across the country where you can enjoy lightning-fast download speeds. Over time, the 5G network technology will improve where the users will get the same speed as the high-band mm Wave spectrum.
According to a report from Opensignal, there is a huge divide between the cellular operators. AT&T is at the bottom end with an average download speed of a 5G network of 49.1 Mbps. This speed is not much faster as compared to the typical 4G network. Verizon, on the other hand, is providing a slightly faster download speed of 56.2 Mbps.
T-Mobile is above all and a reigning king with a download speed of 150 Mbps. With a T-Mobile connection, a user gets hand in hand 5G connectivity due to impressive availability and reach.
Factors of Slow 5G Speed
As mentioned earlier, the download speeds of 5G networks not only depend on the type of connectivity but also the number of people connected to the network. If more people are connected to a cell tower at the same time, the less bandwidth will be dedicated to your connection. However, there are ways to boost a cell signal.
For constant connectivity and fast downloading speed, 5G requires mm Wave for crowded places where thousands of people are connected to a network at the same time.
5G latency and speed
The more important thing than downloading speed is latency. Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance helped establish standards of 5G networks that offer latency of 10 ms and 1 ms for general and special cases requiring lower latency, respectively. Also, the report suggested that data speeds up to 1 Gbps should be supported in some specific environments such as indoor offices and 50 Mbps shall be available everywhere.
How Fast Is 5G In 2022?
Now 5G service is widely available with a 5G enabled phone. However, it is still not a super-fast replacement for the 4G that we all were hoping for. Over time, each carrier is trying to improve their wireless networks and work to roll out 5G where 5G users are expecting lower latency with faster speeds.
In the coming years, the users will have better access to mid-and high-band frequencies in addition to the expansion of coverage area by 5G networks. Also, the users will have access to an increased number of 5G-enabled devices. However, there have been only flagship 5G-enabled devices but now there will be cheaper and mid-range 5G enabled smartphones for the users of the internet.
How Spectrum Band Effects 5G Speed?
The exact speed of 5G is mainly dependent on the three available bands. These three band spectrums offer varying levels of 5G speeds.
|High Band/mm Wave||24-40 GHz||Up to 3 Gbps|
|Mid Band/C Band||1-6 GHz||100 – 900 Mbps|
|Low Band||600-850 MHz||50 – 250 Mbps|
The first level is a low band in which the frequency is below 1 GHz (600-900 MHz). It has the widest coverage of all 5G bands but the speed is slightly faster than the 4G network. The speed of low band 5G can be from 50 to 250 Mbps, whereas 4G has a speed of around 30 Mbps. The low band 5G offers the users a kind of reliable and faster 5G coverage than previous generations of the wireless network.
The middle band is known as the C band in the United States. In Europe and other parts of the world, n78 is the most common mid-band spectrum. Its frequency is between 1 and 6 GHz while offering a speed from 100 to 900 Mbps. In spring 2021, most cellular service providers bid on the C-band spectrum. It has been the most expensive spectrum auction at $81 billion among all generations of the network.
High-band, also known as millimeter wave (mm Wave), provides super-fast connections as promised by the 5G network. This band operates from 24 to 40 GHz and offers a maximum download speed of 3 Gbps. However, download speeds on this band can vary from 10 to 100 times faster than 4G. The United States initially began to implement high-band and it soon ran into geographical obstacles.
5G – Is It Really Faster Than 4G
5G is not only the latest generation of wireless networks but also an industry term. 5G has replaced the older 4G LTE standard just like 4G supplanted 3G. 5G is designed to be much faster than the previous generations but under ideal conditions. The mobile carriers are trying to improve the quality of 5G so that the users can experience super-fast mobile internet.
The speed of 5G is not constant in all areas, although it varies from one place to another. Mainly, the speed is dependent on the bandwidth of the 5G network. Three spectrum bands make 5G coverage with a range of frequencies and speeds. The higher the band spectrum, the higher the speed but shorter distances. However, low-band frequency is used for longer distances while compromising the 5G speed. While considering the spectrum bands, a 5G speed can range from 50 Mbps to 3 Gbps.