5G is becoming more common and accessible around Australia for individuals, homes and businesses, but what is it and how does it work? You can learn all about the latest in mobile technology right here in Savvy’s comprehensive guide, including how it works, its accessibility and its potential speed capacity when it comes to the internet. Find out more with us today!
5G, or the fifth generation of wireless technology, is a mobile and internet source established via a network of mobile towers and base stations designed to transmit data wirelessly at incredibly high speeds. 5G networks utilise a multitude of smaller towers and antennas, often mounted on poles, buildings or streetlights. These smaller towers allow for more efficient data transmission and reception, resulting in faster internet speeds.
On top of this, an emerging frequency for 5G in Australia is millimetre-wave (mmWave) technology. These radio waves, which operate on a higher frequency of 26GHz, are capable of carrying vast amounts of data. However, they have a shorter range and are more susceptible to obstructions like buildings and trees. Additionally, this isn’t widely available as of September 2023 and is only supported by very few phones.
On top of being offered on phone plans to provide mobile coverage to Australians, 5G also enables users to connect to the internet. This comes either in the form of a 5G home wireless broadband plan or 5G mobile internet, with the former being designed for home or office connections and the latter for those on the go.
While its speeds may vary depending on the frequency band and network infrastructure, 5G is significantly faster than its predecessor, 4G. Theoretically, it can achieve peak speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second (Gbps), although in practice you’re likely to find average speeds closer to 200 megabits per second (Mbps) to 250Mbps.
Factors such as network congestion, signal strength, your provider’s network and the number of connected devices can all impact speed, meaning it’s likelier to vary in speed than fixed line internet connections such as NBN plans. Nevertheless, even in congested areas, 5G is designed to provide faster and more reliable internet access.
5G represents a significant evolution from 4G in several key areas:
5G internet and the NBN are both technologies designed to provide high-speed internet access, but they differ in several key ways:
5G is a wireless technology which operates over radio waves. It relies on a network of small cell towers and antennas to transmit data wirelessly to devices equipped with 5G modems.
The NBN, on the other hand, is a type of fixed line internet connection encompassing various technologies, including fibre optic, coaxial and copper cables. It usually involves physical infrastructure installation, such as laying fibre cables or connecting to existing networks.
Speed and reliability
5G is known for its incredible speed and low latency. It can provide high gigabit-level speeds, making it suitable for data-intensive applications, but its lack of fixed connection makes it more prone to fluctuating speeds.
NBN plans offer a range of speed tiers, with slower and faster options. This type of internet is also considered more reliable, although speeds can still vary depending on your connection type and provider.
Coverage and deployment
5G networks are still being rolled out in many areas and are currently primarily available in urban centres, meaning coverage can be limited in rural or remote regions.
In contrast, most of Australia now has access to some form of NBN, making it a more widely accessible internet option in Australia.
In many cases, 5G home internet plans work out to be cheaper than equivalent-speed NBN plans overall. This could be a key consideration if you’re concerned about your budget.
The quickest way to determine 5G availability in your area is by checking with your mobile service provider. Most major carriers have coverage maps on their websites or mobile apps which display areas where 5G service is available. You can simply enter your address or use your current location to see if 5G coverage is present.
Failing this, you may consider reaching out to your mobile provider's customer service. They can check the coverage for your specific location and provide details about 5G availability. It’s important to remember that 5G coverage is continually expanding, so if it isn’t currently available in your area, it may be in the near future as providers continue to roll out their networks. Keep an eye on updates from your mobile carrier, as they often announce new areas with 5G coverage.
5G operates across a spectrum of frequencies, each serving a different purpose. Different providers may deploy different frequencies, so the following example is Telstra’s set of 5G bands (correct as of September 2023):
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Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.