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What is the 5G network?

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The 5G network is the fifth generation of mobile phone networks.

It’s designed to support the growing number of connected devices, such as self-driving cars and delivery drones, that will be using mobile networks in the future.

To support the increase in mobile data network traffic, 5G will offer faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more stable connections than the 4G and 3G networks.

How does 5G work?

5G mobile phones will be designed to work on a different frequency to help make high levels of data transfers and high speeds possible.

Because 5G will operate in a higher frequency band than 4G, it won’t be able to travel as far or as easily around obstacles. This means more antenna will need to be built to get the same coverage as 4G networks and reach more rural parts of the UK.

To help make sure 5G operates at high-speed and at as low a cost as possible, network operators will most likely need to share 5G networks.

80% of people have at least heard of the 5G network

[Data collected by Mintel and Lightspeed in February 2019, accurate as of March 2019]

What are the benefits of 5G?

The speed and capacity of 5G could bring consumers:

  • Real time responses for driverless cars, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Higher quality video calls
  • Quicker download speeds for videos and films

Will you need a new phone for 5G?

Current mobile phones are only designed for 4G and 3G networks, which means they won’t be compatible with 5G.

Motorola has rolled out a 5G Moto Mod in the meantime that attaches to the Motorola Moto Z3 to then work with 5G when it arrives (in the US).

Mobile phones designed to be used with 5G aren’t expected to arrive until 5G networks become available.

Some of the first 5G-compatible mobile phones rumoured to launch in the UK include the:

  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • Huawei P30
  • OnePlus 7

When will 5G be available in the UK?

5G is predicated to arrive in the UK in 2020.

Mobile phone operators are already trialling 5G technology before rolling it out across the UK, and we've put together a list of the best 5G networks currently available so you can compare what's out there.

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