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The key differences between 4G and 5G

Network providers are currently working to rollout 5G across the country and indeed the globe, making it more and more available to businesses and consumers. This fifth-generation network technology is set to revolutionise the mobile business market.

However, there are a number of questions still hanging in the air around 5G, its reliability and how much it really differs from its predecessor, 4G. As a matter of fact, a recent survey by Deloitte found that over 50% of respondents didn’t know the difference between 4G and 5G.

Today’s blog delves deep into those differences. Let’s start by looking at 4G’s journey.

5G mobile: from landline to lifeline

Mobile is a fast-moving market. It’s hard to believe that 4G first launched in the UK back in 2012. Or, to put that into mobile context, 28 iPhones ago. That’s right – while it might seem like the service hasn’t been around for long, the rapidly growing mobile service market has seen the need for ‘cutting-edge’ devices soar. While users cry out for faster downloads speeds and more capacity, the network is playing catch up.

And that is spilling into the business market now more than ever before. When we take into consideration the number of mobile and home workers in the UK before the pandemic and compare that to more recent statistics, we’re seeing a seismic shift in hybrid working and a huge increase in the need for mobile capability and on the go devices. 5G couldn’t have come at a better time.

But this isn’t just about voice, video and calling capability that suits the needs of a burgeoning business and its employees. Customers interacting with your teams now expect crisp, fast communication without delay. In a world where you can record a feature-length 4K quality film on a mobile handset, leaving even Spielberg quaking in his boots, why shouldn’t your customers expect a crystal clear 30-minute meeting with their account manager that doesn’t involve audio lag or the classic ‘you’ve frozen again’?

Mobile speed bumps (the good kind)

4G was trailblazing broadband cellular network technology. It drove the average download speed from 5.6 Megabits per second (Mbps) to a whopping 15.8Mbps. Latency (the time it takes for data to be transferred between its original source and its destination)also decreased from 86.4 milliseconds (ms) to 39.2ms. Pretty impressive and totally disruptive to the market…at the time.

Now, let’s look at 5G. 5G has the potential to bring speeds of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). That’s equal to 1000Mbps. With Three’s recent Network update, it is quite literally towering over 4G’s offering. However, unlike the previous process of replacing 3G with 4G, 5G hasn’t been brought in to outright replace 4G.

Instead, 5G is another layer to the existing network that provides more capacity in sections of the UK’s busiest cities, which experience the highest amount of traffic.

Did we mention that 5G speeds are up to 100 times faster than 4G? That’s a good kind of speed bump. It also means that downloading an episode of your favourite Netflix show would take seconds, not minutes. Great for your entertainment needs, but even greater for mobile workers needing to send, receive and present information while on the move or working out of office.

Seamless streaming

Let’s dive a little deeper into latency. Today’s 4G latency levels sit at around 30-40ms. 5G has recorded latency as low as 10ms. That’s a near-instant connection to webpages, applications, or whatever else you’d like to load. It also means seamless audio and video capability – a lifesaver for your teams when you consider that we now spend 90% of our working day on calls or in video meetings.

5G for your business means a significant reduction, if not total eradication, of the dreaded audio and video lag. Instead of dropping in and out of meetings due to bad reception, apologising to your customers and colleagues for the delay, you can now join the call with a click, screen share with ease and simply get things done whether you’re at home, in an office or on the move.

When you invest in 5G, you’re not the only person living out the benefits, your customers experience them too. Take Gamma Mobile, for example. Our business only mobile service is powered in partnership with Three UK. Three had the fastest recorded 5G service in Q1-Q2 of 2021.

Gamma Mobile users are already experiencing the many benefits that come with the service. In this digital-first world, your customers expect to connect to your team instantly and 5G brings that expectation to life. To further enforce how revolutionary this technology is for video calling, 5G was  actually designed to improve high resolution streaming quality. This goes far beyond your Monday morning meeting, branching out into virtual reality experiences and even AI. The possibilities are endless, it seems.

Since the introduction of 5G, Three UK have found that their list of most popular applications has seen a reshuffle, with video streaming applications coming up on top. More good news for businesses as your teams will be able to share assets such as product videos or training materials quickly, with very low chances of lag and that crystal clear quality we mentioned previously.

A smooth operator

As a newer network, 5G is designed to provide more network capacity. Network capacity is the amount of traffic that a network can handle at any one time, such as a high number of voice calls and maximum data speeds running concurrently.

An increase in capacity paired with the ability to deliver lower latency levels will offer users a more uniform experience, enabling data rates to stay consistently high even when the user is on the move or around high network traffic. Perfect for those working on their commute or between client call-ins.

Coverage? We’ve got that covered

As of June 2021, network provider Three’s combined 3G and 4G mobile phone coverage spanned 99.8% of the population, making it one of the UK’s widest-ranging networks. Following the provider’s recent network enhancements, its continuing 5G rollout will mean a monumental improvement to mobile coverage.

4G has been known to encounter difficulties when trying to service many devices in the same location. 5G transmits to each device individually and with high precision, with the ability to handle as much as 1 million devices per square kilometre. So, you’ll see vast improvements to coverage whether you’re sharing videos of Adele performing live in Hyde Park with those friends who couldn’t get tickets, or if you’re simply trying to respond to a customer’s email on your mobile device during a busy tech expo.

Stay connected

Yes, 4G can connect your device to the internet, but 5G goes one step further.

Mobiles are great for staying connected with colleagues and customers while on the move, but on a day where you’re rushing between meetings, a smartwatch provides convenient buzz notifications to keep you up to date.  In the same breath, there are many work tasks that are considered laptop-necessary – ever tried to build an annual sales presentation in a mobile app? We rest our case.

For many of us, multitasking is a working day prerequisite and the different devices we use to offer their individual benefits. It’s crucial that they can all offer the same levels of service and connectivity.

While exceptional for mobile use, 5G wasn’t just built for phones. In fact, 5G is designed to connect multiple devices smartly. For instance, running to catch that train and feel a buzz from your smartphone? That’s 5G providing a connection that consumes very little energy. It recognises you are using a device that might run on a smaller battery. Simultaneously it can be providing fast, impactful connectivity to much larger devices (think, factory robot).

What we’re saying is, when processing more strenuous tasks, the 5G network picks up the slack thus improving device performance and potentially the holy grail – battery life.

Making your business mobile

It’s pretty clear that while 4G was designed for mobile phones, 5G has been built for so much more.

It has been estimated that, by 2021, there will be up to 438 million 5G connections. The evolution of cellular broadband technology has gone beyond simply connecting a mobile device to the nearest WIFI connection. This technology has birthed smart cities, connecting homes, phones, cars, and even your trusty Alexa. All wrapped up in your relied upon Internet of things bubble.

The modern-day working world needs to be flexible. The frequent demand for new high-performance devices coupled with a never-ending requirement for more data has led network providers to reassess performance levels and keep up with the demand. 4G will soon be considered the bare minimum.

5G mobile will achieve efficiencies that previously were not thought possible. This superior network will allow the connection of assets, suppliers, distribution services and customers more seamlessly than ever before, and in this new hybrid working world, 5G has already become a business necessity.

Get ready for 5G

5G mobile gifts your connected devices all the hidden gear, but a provider like Gamma uses our own equipment and expertise to enhance those connections and strengthen your services. Get in touch with our team to find out more or visit our dedicated mobile page today.