5G vs 4G : Similarities and Differences

5G vs 4G

5G vs 4G : Similarities and Differences

In the history of mankind, age old questions have been in circulation for as long ago as we can remember. In the modern day of advanced technology, such questions still exist. Gmail vs Yahoo! Mail, Android vs iOS, Windows vs Mac, and more recently, searches for 5G vs 4G have begun to surface as well. In this modern world we live in, being connected is important.  And even more so when a great deal of businesses and entrepreneurs depend on its networks to get things done. So why does this matter to you? 5G and 4G are somewhat similar, yet entirely different in the way they work. Here we’ll discuss the basic differences in framework and how the two function. As well as what we can take away from all the information we’ve gathered.

It’s common for people go with what’s the latest and greatest of something. And it only makes sense that 5G is that particular something. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been released yet, and it will stay that way until at least 2020. 5G simply means the 5th generation of the wireless technology we use. Now, 5G wouldn’t be a worthy successor to its predecessor if it didn’t have a number of improvements. What we know so far is limited, but from the information we do have, it is safe to infer that 5G will be providing a massive, much needed speed boost. As well as increasing the coverage range and making sure the new networks work more reliably compared to past iterations.

The Evolution

First, when comparing 5G vs 4G, it is important to know that technology has evolved to the point where 5G, or the 5th generation, has more in common with 5G than differences, at least on paper. You might think that 5G simply improves upon the things we’ve mentioned early, that is, speed, reliability, and coverage. While that’s true, where they do differ more conspicuously is how they fundamentally work. So while we mentioned that they are pretty similar, 5G wouldn’t be called the 5th generation if there wasn’t any obvious improvements to the network.

Following the strict requirements set by The Next Generation Mobile Networks alliance. For something to be considered 5G, it has to offer several tens of megabytes per second to thousands of users simultaneously, at any given time. Clearly that is an extravagant amount of data that current 4G networks are simply not capable of. So how does 5G achieve the goal that is set a country mile away from the 4G network capabilities? One way 5G does this is by using unique radio frequencies that 4G networks do not have access to.

How does it really work?

How this particularly works is that the radio spectrum is segregated into smaller bands. These bands each have unique feature that ascend with the higher frequencies. To put things in perspective, 4G networks operate at frequencies below 6 GHz. Whereas 5G is meant to operate at frequencies as high as 30 GHz all the way up to 300 GHz, or at least in theory. It is not uncommon for people to associate higher numbers with better performance. In this case, people aren’t too far off from the truth. Higher frequencies in this context allow for a larger capacity for fast data.

Looking to the future, this is especially beneficial when you consider the fact that bandwidth demands are likely to increase. Because of this preemptive initiative, 5G networks will be able to cater to the market’s demands almost instantly when it gets released. Aside from this, a higher capacity for faster data also ensures clutter from existing cellular data is reduced. These frequencies are also highly directional. In practice, this basically makes 5G networks significantly more efficient compared to 4G networks. With the way 4G towers are designed, they basically fire data in numerous directions. And eventually get the result they want through sheer numbers. This potentially wastes precious resources like energy and power, because in the random firing of said resources, even locations that aren’t trying to access the internet are included.

5G networks are designed to utilize shorter wavelengths as compared to 4G networks.

In real life, this means that they are able to make use of physically smaller antennas, while still offering excellent directional control. How small, you ask? 5G cellular sites will typically be about the size of a shoe box. Although they may vary depending on the signal strength required.

Generally though, they will be more miniscule compared to the enormous towers that 4G networks require. As a trade-off, 5G cellular sites will require more of them scattered in closer proximity. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the smaller size more than compensates for it. The general plan is for them to be placed in public spaces and structures such as parks and lamp posts. What we can infer from this is that 5G networks are meant to beam blazingly fast data to more users efficiently and with little latency.

So what’s the catch?

Well, these extremely fast frequencies won’t work if there isn’t a direct line-of-sight between the device requesting the signal and the antenna. Not only that, but humidity, rain, and other objects may hinder the traveling. That’s why multiple cellular sites make sense. By strategically placing them in different spots, these no longer cause a significant issue. For these to work on large buildings though, it is generally expected that multiple cellular sites will need to be placed in one building in order for the signal to travel smoothly. Repeating stations will also be strategically placed. In order push the radio waves as far as possible in order to actually make long range 5G possible. After all, 5G networks won’t be of much use to anyone if they only work in a small area.

4G and 5G will differ in another aspect aside from this, and that is how their networks as a whole work. 5G networks are designed to more easily understand the type of data being requested. Because of this design, a cost-efficient method was born. A low power mode is available when it is not in use or when supplying low rates to particular devices. When you do something more power extensive, say, like watching and streaming multiple high definition videos, it will start to flex its muscles and use the power necessary.

We know for certain that 5G will be faster than 4G. But how much faster?

Will it be comparable to the services offered by reputable companies like Spectrum who have value for money bundles available at their website xyzies.com? Unfortunately, that is a little bit less certain, and estimates will more or less be a hit or miss until some of us finally get our hands on the end-product this 2020. A few companies, however, have already begun their testing phase. Huawei has reported a speed of 3.6 gigabytes per second, Samsung has reported a speed of 7.5 gigabytes per second, and Nokia has recorded a more impressive 10 gigabytes per second.

From these estimates and a lot of the data we can get from other somewhat credible sources, we can roughly estimate that the 5G network will be about 10-20 times faster than its predecessor. 4G peaks at about 1 gigabyte per second. Now, take note that these refer to peak speeds. Peak speeds refer to the best case scenario, that being the fastest possible outcome in favourable conditions.

Also, these statistical numbers refer to devices that are stationary. Such as a fixed wired access (FWA) setup where the user’s device has a direct wireless connection with the cellular tower. When you find yourself moving, however, results can vary depending on several factors. In real life scenario you might find yourself in, think of downloading a movie one time using the 4G network. In the time it took to download that movie, you would have downloaded the same movie or a movie of the exact same size 20 times already if you were using the 5G network. Now that is impressive! What’s also impressive is that, at bare bones minimum, 5G should be able to deliver 100 megabytes per second at the very least.

When debating about 5G vs 4G, it is good to know what 5G is capable of that 4G is not.

Given the immense increase in speed, it should come as no surprise that 5G will spearhead the future of mobile computing. That’s good to know, but what does it mean to the average consumer? For starters, 5G will still be capable of sending text messages, making phone calls, browsing the internet, and all the other tasks you expect it to do.

Basically, it improves on the things your mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are already able to do. Browsing websites will become a seamless experience due to the faster load times. Online games will give you an almost real time experience. HD videos will load almost instantaneously. And truly high definition quality may be expected from making video and voice calls over the internet. The coming of 5G is truly something to look forward to!

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