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5G vs. 4G: What’s the difference?

It’s hard to believe that 4G has been up and running for 5 years. When 4G was ushered in it brought faster connections, smoother streaming, and allowed us to play games online with its vastly improved latency over 3G.

But now 5G is here and the difference is huge!

The biggest difference between 4G and 5G is the speed. 5G has the potential to be up to 10 times faster, because the way 5G works means that it uses smaller wavelengths and much higher frequencies which can support far more simultaneous connections than 4G. This means when you’re in a place with a lot of people, like a football match, a concert, or in a busy city centre your connectivity remains consistent. 

This is likely where the biggest difference between 4 and 5G becomes apparent – as a technology that will enable the hyper-connected Internet of Things world.

What’s the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is a system of interconnected devices like cars, fridges, phones and wearable technology that is all connected to the internet and capable of ‘talking’ to one another. You might already be participating in the internet of things if you’ve ever used a smart thermostat, or can dim your lightbulbs from your smartphone! Interconnected devices lead to less energy usage, little helps that add up, and a lot more convenience – and this is just the beginning!

So what does 5G have to do with the IoT?

As 5G gets better it will be instrumental in developing smart cities, smart infrastructure management, smart cars – smart everything! In a world where it’s possible to have many more devices connected to the same network simultaneously without dips in service or interruption, our world will get smarter and more efficient in a way that 4G alone could never deliver.

What’s the difference in speed between 5G and 4G?

We’ve said previously that a 50-minute Netflix show would take you under 20 seconds to download on 5G. But understanding how much faster 5G is than 4G means looking at more than just download speeds.

4G’s latency vs 5G’s is key to understanding the difference between 4G and 5G.

4G’s latency sits somewhere around 20-30 milliseconds, but 5G will go well below 10 milliseconds. This is great for us as users of mobile devices, but it will have the most profound impact in connected industry or where the finest of response times is critical, such as connected cars.

5G’s lower latency can be traced back to its spectral efficiency which is a fancy way of saying that 5G can transmit more data over a band of electromagnetic radio frequencies than 4G could.

4G vs. 3G

Remember when we used to say how much faster 4G was than 3G? Here’s a table to show you the difference.

PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

AVERAGE SPEED (Download/Upload)

LATENCY

3G

5.6Mbps/1.6Mbps

86.4ms

4G

15.8Mbps/7.2Mbps

39.2ms

Want to learn more about 5G? Check our 5G hub for more news and insights.