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What is 5G?

5G is the latest in mobile technology available in Australia, providing better reception and faster internet.

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, updated on February 13th, 2024       

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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!

What is 5G and how does it work?

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.

How fast is 5G internet?

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.

What are the differences between 5G and 4G internet?

5G represents a significant evolution from 4G in several key areas:

  • Speed: 5G is substantially faster than 4G, with average speeds up to 10 times higher (most 4G plans today come with capped speeds of between 20Mbps and 25Mbps). This can mean quicker downloads, smoother streaming, and reduced latency for tasks like online gaming and video conferencing.
  • Latency: 5G networks offer ultra-low latency, reducing the delay between sending a command and receiving a response. This is crucial for data-intensive applications like gaming or large file downloads.
  • Coverage: as of September 2023, 4G internet is much more widely available than 5G. Many regional parts of Australia don’t have access to 5G networks, ruling it out as a potential option until it’s rolled out in these areas.
  • Frequency bands: 5G operates in a wider range of frequency bands than 4G, with this diversity allowing for greater flexibility in network deployment.
  • Cost: in almost all cases, you’ll find that 4G internet and mobile plans are cheaper than their 5G counterparts.

How is 5G internet different from the NBN?

5G internet and the NBN are both technologies designed to provide high-speed internet access, but they differ in several key ways:

Technology

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.

Price

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.

How do I find out if 5G is available in my area?

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.

What frequency is 5G in Australia?

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):

  • Low band: 700MHz to 900MHz
  • Mid band: 1,800MHz to 3,600MHz
  • High band (mmWave): 26GHz to 28GHz

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Disclaimer:

Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of internet plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an internet plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

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.

$50 Woolworths eGift card terms and conditions
  • The Promoter is CIMET Sales Pty Ltd ABN 72 620 395 726. Level 18/570 George Street Sydney, NSW 2000. Econnex Comparison is powered by CIMET.
  • Promotion available on qualifying Broadband Plan purchases between 1st February 2024 to 31st July 2024 (“Promotional Period”) and may be withdrawn at any time by Econnex Econnex Comparison retains the right to change or alter the terms of this offer.
  • You (“Customer”) will receive $50 worth of Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards when you purchase a Broadband Plan via Econnex Comparison, subject to these Terms and Conditions.
  • Information on how to qualify to receive the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Card forms part of these Terms and Conditions. Participation in this promotion is considered acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.
Eligibility requirements
  • To be eligible to receive the Woolworths Bonus Store eGift Cards, you must purchase the Broadband Plan via the following link: https://app.econnex.com.au/broadband?rcCode=90709
  • You must switch to a new Broadband retailer. Customers who change plans via Econnex but remain with the same retailer will not be eligible.
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  • When the request for a connection cannot be completed, is unsuccessful, or a request is made for the cancellation of your Broadband Plan within the first 30 days from the date of connection, you will not be eligible to receive any gift card.
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  • By participating in this promotion, the individual authorises the Promoter to collect, hold, use and disclose their personal information in accordance with Econnex’s privacy policy, including providing such information to third parties such as contractors, service providers, suppliers and where required or authorised by law. Econnex’s Privacy policy can be found at https://www.econnex.com.au/privacy-policy
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Other Information
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