Australia is currently undergoing massive upgrades to make way for the next generation of mobile connectivity. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, and it promises a much faster experience than 3G and 4G technologies. While 5G networks are only available in certain parts of the country, it won’t be long until it gets full coverage. Before that happens, it’s important you understand what this new mobile network has in store for your business.
Why should 5G matter to you?
The most cited benefit of 5G is speed. Theoretically, 5G upload and download speeds top out at 10 Gbps. That’s a hundred times faster than 4G networks, which can only reach up to 100 Mbps. Of course, the exact speeds an individual user experiences will vary depending on a number of factors. Bandwidth may be affected by the device being used, how the network is configured, and the number of devices connected to it. Regardless of this, users can expect a significant performance boost, especially when it comes to video streaming and large file downloads.
Another benefit of 5G is reduced latency. The typical latency for 4G networks is 60 milliseconds, whereas 5G could decrease this to as low as 1 millisecond. This equates to improved responsiveness and minimal lag as data is being transferred from browsers to the servers and back.
What’s more, 5G will allow more devices to connect to the network at the same time. This is especially helpful in crowded areas like Sydney CBD where 4G performance tends to drop. A bigger capacity also means 5G networks will be able to accommodate more connected machinery and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Where is 5G available in Australia?
Telstra and Optus are spearheading the 5G rollout across Australia, but it will take some time to get full coverage. So far, Telstra’s 5G network is covering 26 towns and cities. This includes, but is not limited to, major parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth. The telco company also reported that they plan to launch 5G in nine more cities before May.
Optus has over 300 5G sites providing sparse coverage in major Australian cities. By March 2020, they intend to switch on 1,200 sites across the country. Although Optus is offering mobile broadband plans, their focus seems to be on providing home wireless packages.
Which devices are compatible?
Considering that 5G technology is still in its early stages, the options for 5G-compatible devices are limited. Samsung currently has the most commercially available phones, with Galaxy S10 5G, Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, and Galaxy A90 5G. Telecommunication providers are also offering the OPPO Reno 5G and LG V50 ThinQ.
In addition to mobile devices, HTC’s 5G Hubb is a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can provide network connections for up to 20 devices.
Other manufacturers that are confirmed to release 5G devices include Nokia, Sony, and ZTE. There’s no news of Apple developing a 5G iPhone, but they’ll likely announce a new model in the latter half of 2020.
How to connect to 5G?
Connecting to a 5G network is as easy as enabling cellular data in your smartphone like you would with 4G. All you need is a 5G-enabled device, an eligible mobile data plan, and an area with decent 5G coverage.
Telstra’s mobile broadband plans start at $32 per month up to $92 per month for more data. Meanwhile, Optus plans go between $39 and $79 per month. Keep in mind that Optus has less 5G coverage than Telstra, so your experience may be spotty in certain areas.
What are the drawbacks of 5G?
Despite the excitement surrounding 5G, there are some compelling reasons why businesses shouldn’t make the jump to the new network just yet. For one, 5G devices can be expensive and eat up a lot of battery for such high-speed connections. Faster speeds also mean you’re burning through your monthly data plan much quicker because you can do more on your phone.
Another downside with 5G is that the coverage may be unreliable, especially in its early stages. When technology progressed to 4G networks, cell towers were producing more bandwidth but the coverage radius was smaller. At the time, 4G users noticed that their signal dropped more often than on the 3G network. The same trend will occur when switching to the new mobile network. 5G may be fast, but it doesn’t cover as much space as a 3G or 4G network. More cell towers will need to be built to deliver consistent lightning-fast connections throughout the country.
What’s more, until 5G is fully rolled out, performance may drop due to rain, foliage, or other obstructions. Unless you’re already in an area that has 5G coverage, hold off on investing in the technology. You should also be cautious about purchasing 5G-compatible smartphones. 5G is nice to have, but you need to assess its potential value to your business. Will 5G enhance your network infrastructure and data analytics? Does switching to 5G hardware fit into your remote work strategy and your budget? These are the questions you need to ask yourself to be certain that you’re ready for 5G.
The best thing you can do right now is research the technology and stay abreast of the most recent developments. If you’re interested in learning more about 5G, stay tuned to Empower IT’s blog. We’ll provide you the latest updates on the new mobile network and advise you with anything regarding IT. Give us a call today.