5G phone providers like Xfinity, Spectrum, Sprint, Verizon, Optimum, Alaska’s GCI, T-Mobile, and AT&T, have been boasting about the advantages of the 5G network’s mobile technology for a while. But what exactly is 5G technology that makes 5G home Internet possible?
Perhaps you’ve already started to receive offers from local Internet companies offering you “5G capacity” or “5G home Internet service.”
In this article, we’ll take a look at what this means, so that you can decide whether 5G home Internet is right for you.
What is 5G Internet?
The “G” in 5G stands for “generation.” This means that a 5G network is the fifth generation of Internet networks.
5G Internet is the latest and most advanced form of high-speed home Internet available, providing enhanced upload and download speeds and unparalleled connectivity.
Benefits of 5G Internet
With the latest options in digital technology, 5G customers have access to benefits, including:
- Ability to connect a greater number of devices at once
- Faster data
- Fewer delays in service
Now that homes rely on multiple smart devices and streaming services, it’s more important than ever before to have access to the latest and most advanced Internet.
This is especially true now that many people are relying on a virtual office and making video conferencing a regular part of their daily routine.
Advantages of 5G vs 4G
What exactly separates 5G from 4G (and 4g LTE)? According to Wired Magazine, 5G home Internet is 10 times faster than the previous 4G Internet networks, though it’s not unusual to hear claims of even higher performance. At peak data rates, 5G can purportedly deliver 20 Gigabits per second (Gbps), while 5G's average data rates are 100+ Megabits per second (Mbps). Compare those numbers to 4G's peak data rate: 150 Mbps, and it's average data rate: 20 – 30 Mbps.
5G's faster speeds allows for more connected devices operating simultaneously in one household. It allows for true smart home capabilities, making the Internet of Things or IoT a reality. It also makes for better gaming experiences, and VR or augmented reality. Additionally, 5G’s bandwidth allows for larger amounts of data to be transmitted faster and more efficiently than 4G.
Currently, 5G networks are being built on top of existing 4G infrastructures, which means that the shift from 4G to 5G is not yet complete. Some consumers will continue to intermittently rely on a 4G network and may not experience the full advantages of a 5G network just yet.
How Does 5G Home Internet Work?
Wireless technology relies on radio waves to transmit data. Sometimes, these radio frequencies are referred to as the “spectrum” through which data is transmitted.
Here’s where 5G wireless networks are innovative: 5G networks rely on higher-frequency radio waves known as “millimeter waves” or “mmwaves,” operating out of a portion of the spectrum that’s less cluttered by other communications technologies. This allows 5G networks to carry more information at a faster rate, meaning you can receive and send information in mere milliseconds.
One of the other unique features of the 5G network is a movement away from traditional tower-based transmitters and a greater reliance on smaller ones that can be mounted on street furniture and buildings. This can reduce the “eyesore” factor of previous structures.
Types of 5G Internet
Currently, 5G Internet technology is made up of three bands, based on the frequencies at which they operate.
Low-Band Spectrum (<2 GHz)
The low-band spectrum can go great distances, but these frequencies are also being used for 4G networks, so they're more affected by latency issues, which makes them slower and often indistinguishable from 4G networks.
Mid-Band Spectrum (2-10 GHz)
These frequencies are often used in other countries that still rely on towers to increase their range. These frequencies cover most current cellular networks and WiFi frequencies, so they tend to be used heavily in other countries to handle their 5G traffic.
High-Band Spectrum (20-100 GHz)
Usually, the high-band spectrum is what we mean when we speak of 5G networks, 5g use, and 5g devices. These frequencies have a limited range, which is why they rely on multiple, smaller transmitters instead of large towers. This closer distance to transmitters also results in lower latency.
The advantage, however, is that these high frequencies do not contain a lot of other traffic, which ensures that speeds are faster than ever.
You may also hear talk of “ultra-wideband,” which boasts even faster performance. However, coverage with this frequency is less than total.
Is 5G Internet Available Anywhere?
You’ve probably heard cell phone and Internet companies speak of “nationwide” 5G coverage. While this is technically true, consumers can expect to have vastly different experiences for 5G Internet depending on where they're located and the Internet company providing their service.
As of September, 2021, all major ISPs have a 5G option, and it's available in many cities and rural areas. Internet customers in major urban centers like Houston, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York will most certainly have 5G Internet plan options.
PC Mag, for instance, points out that “ultra-wideband” technology and full 5G coverage is not universally available, nor can consumers expect every Internet or cell phone provider to offer the same high rate of service.
Is 5G Home Internet Right for Me?
If you’re switching Internet service providers, it makes sense to upgrade to a 5G network. The technology is still evolving, but most early adopters can expect to see the benefits of 5G speeds immediately.
Of course, you may be moving to a new location where 5G home Internet doesn’t outperform your current internet provider. Canceling your current contract may result in penalties and early termination fees, and a new provider might not be the best value at the present time.
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