It seems like 5G is suddenly everywhere, but what is all the hype about? And what is 5G, anyway? If these questions have been plaguing you, or even if you’re just curious to find out more about this new wave of tech, read on.
5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks
That’s right – it’s a new generation of wireless broadband internet. That means our phones can go online without being hooked up to a wired network or home WiFi – it’s what makes our mobile phones, well, mobile.
While all the talk about 5G frames it as a strange new development, the truth is much more pedestrian: it’s simply a network upgrade that brings us faster speeds and wider capabilities than the current system. Stepping up from old networks certainly isn’t new – remember the switch from 3G to 4G? The first 4G service went live in South Africa in 2012, less than 10 years ago! And if you were impressed by the 4G network in 2012 (it made those Gangnam Style parody videos load so much faster) you’re about to be blown away by 5G’s data speeds.
Your phone’s data speeds might soon outrun your home fibre
Everyone agrees 5G is faster than 4G, but how much faster? “A lot” doesn’t seem to cut it as an answer, so let’s look at the numbers:
We’re not talking about the difference between a leisurely stroll and a brisk jog – more like the difference between a leisurely stroll and a Formula 1 race car zooming past you at full speed.
Forget buffering, with 5G you could download a whole season of a series in a few minutes. It’s no wonder experts expect 5G to become the main network of choice for home connectivity in the coming years. But how did we get a hundred-fold speed increase in under a decade?
5G isn’t just faster, it’s smarter
Part of the reason we have 5G is the fact that technology is always advancing, so processes get more efficient, chips get smaller, and new ways of affordably producing tech get developed. But 5G isn’t just “4G plus”, it’s a new approach to the age-old problem of providing high speed internet access to devices all over the world.
A huge problem that 5G solves is a basic mechanical issue: how do you get a really fast, high-bandwidth connection to reach a whole neighbourhood, city, or even country?
The 5G network fixes this problem in two ways: firstly, 5G isn’t just one frequency. It’s actually a combination of high, mid and low frequency waves, so your phone has three times the chance of getting great signal. Secondly, 5G networks rely on widespread installation of several smaller local antennas, a far cry from the large cell towers of previous generations. This ensures the higher frequency, higher bandwidth 5G signal actually reaches as many devices as possible.
5G: What’s in it for me?
The 5G revolution is going to change much more than just how quickly we download series. With a strong 5G signal, your life could be upgraded in so many ways:
- You’ll forget the word ‘buffering’ when watching shows, movies, and livestreams.
- Work will go smoother when you can download large documents quickly on the go.
- Online games become more fun with no lag.
- You’ll never put off a backup or update fearing it’ll slow down your device while you’re using it.
- Holidays and big events can be an international affair as you can upload large files like photos and videos on the go, sharing content in a flash.
- Virtual meetings, hangouts and family reunions feel more natural as high-quality VoIP and video calls can flow with no awkward delays.
- Strut your inner influencer and confidently stream live wherever you are on social platforms like Instagram and Twitch.
And the world could be upgraded, too. The high data speeds 5G offers actually make sci-fi scenarios possible: imagine travelling in a city-wide network of self-driving cars or being operated on remotely by a doctor on another continent. These powerful steps forward would benefit everyone, which is why 5G is such an exciting development heading into the next decade of science and technology.
The #5GforMi movement in South Africa
Like any new development, 5G stands the risk of being an elite service for the privileged few. But Mobile in Africa is dedicated to making cutting-edge technology available to everyone. That’s why the #5GforMi hashtag was started to celebrate the launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T, MIA’s first 5G phone in the country.
The Redmi Note 9T is designed to support 5G from the ground up. The Dual SIM 5G feature means you can be on two 5G networks at once, getting you the fastest speeds. Of course, with more data comes more processing power: luckily the MediaTek Dimensity 800U octa-core CPU handles all that information seamlessly, and a high-capacity battery means you can enjoy those lightning 5G speeds without being hooked up to a charger.
The new generation of wireless connectivity is already transforming the way the world works, plays and connects. Which benefit of 5G are you most excited about? Let us know with the #5GforMi hashtag.