Should I or should not I? Many people who are considering buying a new smartphone are currently asking this question. Telekom in particular is massively promoting the new 5G wonder network. So should you make sure now that the new device can handle the wireless standard? Unfortunately there is neither a clear yes nor a clear no to this question, but there is a tendency. An overview of the most important facts.
Which mobile network providers already enable 5G for end consumers?
At the moment these are only Telekom and Vodafone with some distance. For around 12,000 cell towers, Deutsche Telekom has reallocated part of the frequency spectrum that was previously used for the outdated 3G (UMTS) technology to 5G – so in mid-June it was able to fill up the network coverage map considerably in one fell swoop. The Ruhr area is relatively well covered, as are the greater Berlin and Munich areas. Vodafone’s 5G network is even more patchy, Vodafone is focusing on rural areas where there is still no fast Internet access. For this purpose, the company offers a router for the home that draws on the Internet via cellular network and then passes it on via WiFi. Telefónica O2 has started to convert the network, but does not yet offer 5G access for private customers. The new, fourth 5G competitor, Drillisch, has not yet started either.
Does every 5G mobile phone work with every provider’s networks?
No, you have to be careful here. There are even 5G-capable cell phones on offer that cannot establish a 5G connection at all with the frequencies currently used in Germany. This is because different frequencies are used in different countries. Radio chips that can cover a large number of frequency ranges were not available in the early days – this was also the case with the previous 4G standard. If you get your cell phone from the network operator, such as Telekom, you should be on the safe side.
What about the touted advantages of 5G such as fast response times?
5G is currently often piggybacking on 4G, which means that the connection is established via 4G, only the actual data transport then takes place via 5G. However, this means that nothing remains of the much touted super-fast response speed of 5G, the so-called latency, of just a few milliseconds. It will take some time before the transmitting and receiving systems, but also the core network – such as the fiber optic cables to the masts – are really ready for 5G.
On the one hand, network operators still have to gain experience with the new technology, on the other hand there is also uncertainty about the important 5G technology provider Huawei. In order to achieve low latencies, a lot of computing power has to be moved close to the masts, keyword edge computing. This is necessary, for example, in order to transfer virtual reality applications smoothly.
What will happen to 3G and 4G?
Not even 4G (LTE) is available everywhere in Germany, Telefónica, for example, is still working to meet the requirements of the Federal Network Agency, and there are also blank spots among competitors. So it will last longer. Its performance will even increase with the 5G expansion. 3G (UMTS), on the other hand, is out of date, and network operators will gradually take it out of service from the middle of next year. If you still have a cell phone or a contract that only provides 3G, you should change that, otherwise you will fall back on 2G. This is already slow as a snail, but also overloaded and therefore not useful for using the Internet. So all that remains is to make calls and write messages like in the past.
Which tariffs include 5G?
The runtime tariffs from Vodafone and Telekom already include the 5G option; So far, prepaid customers have only been able to get 5G from Telekom – for a surcharge of three euros per month. The providers who do not have a network themselves have so far been excluded from 5G. Telefónica and Drillisch do not yet offer tariffs for private individuals.
Who needs 5G today?
For private users, the main advantage of 5G at the moment is the faster download speed. Tests in Berlin achieved around 900 Mbit / s – at this speed, a video for offline viewing can be downloaded in seconds. The prerequisite is that the cell phone can handle 5G with the frequency band n78 (3500 MHz), the masts converted by Telekom (n1, 2100 MHz) are not quite as fast, but reach speeds of up to 100 Mbit / s higher than most landline connections. In addition, as a user in 5G networks, you are often alone in the corridor, so that you don’t have to share the bandwidth with (many) others. That is possibly the most important aspect. Anyone who is in urgent need of a stable Internet supply while on the move can keep another option open. Sticks for notebooks or even notebooks with a built-in 5G chip are not yet available.
The advantages of 5G for private individuals are still manageable. If you don’t want to buy any of the expensive flagship smartphones, you should wait a year until teething troubles with the 5G chips should have been cured to such an extent that even mid-range phones can cope with all networks. Anyone who lives in an area with poor internet coverage but has a 5G antenna nearby can buy a 5G router – but the contracts are at least currently more expensive than internet connections via landline.