What Are the Differences Between 5G and 4G Internet?

Since its deployment, 5G has been the talk of the town and one question often comes up: what is the difference with 4G? If you’re not sure about the two technologies, or if you’re just curious, we explain what makes these networks different…

What are 5G and 4G networks?

To fully understand 5G and 4G, it is important to go back to the way mobile networks work. In the same way as radio or television, telephone networks use radio frequencies. Over time, three technologies have emerged:

  • GSM technology (Global System for Mobile Communications) operates on frequency bands between 900 MHz and 1900 MHz. The GSM network allows to call and receive calls. It then evolved successively to the GPRS and EDGE standards which allowed the sending of MMS and access to the Internet with a maximum speed of 200 Kbit/s;
  • UMTS technology (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) better known as 3G. It uses the frequency bands between 900 MHz and 2100 MHz. It allows you to surf the Web with connection speeds of up to 20 Mbps;
  • LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, known as 4G. It operates on the 700 MHz and 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz frequency bands. also known as LTE Advanced. In theory, it can achieve a speed of up to 1 Gbps. In practice, the 4G+ connection reaches between 200 Mbit/s and 300 Mbit/s, which is twice as fast as 4G.

5G also uses LTE technology to operate. In fact, it uses some of the frequency bands of 4G LTE. It also operates on millimeter waves (i.e., high frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz) as well as the 3.5 GHz frequency bands. The speeds of 5G can reach up to 20 Gbps.

5G vs. 4G: what makes them different?

The main difference between 5G and 4G is in the quality of the internet connection. Faster download, reduced latency, the fifth generation of mobile network offers many advances …

5G: A faster download speed

The first major difference between the two mobile networks is the internet speed. With 4G, it is possible to reach up to 1 Gbit/s in download. With 5G, the downstream speed can reach up to 20 Gbit/s. In practice, this difference is felt on the speed of downloading multimedia files.

5G has a much more reduced latency

Another important difference is the latency time. The shorter the latency, the smoother the Internet connection. With 4G, it is 10 ms, while with 5G, it is 1 ms.

So, if you use 5G, your connection will be much more stable and you will experience far fewer cuts and blockages. The quality of video calls will therefore be greatly improved.

5G has better internet quality in dense areas

5G mainly uses the 3.5 GHz frequency band, which is much less congested and allows for faster speeds. Thanks to this, a larger number of people and/or connected objects can use the network simultaneously from the same location, without suffering a slowdown in their internet speed.

It is important to note, however, that operators are deploying 5G on multiple frequency bands at once. Some, such as Free, have chosen to develop a large part of their network on the 700 MHz and 800 MHz frequency bands, which offer less efficient internet connections than the 3.5 GHz band.

Different uses

The arrival of 4G had already transformed the world of telecommunication. In particular, it allowed the development of mobile Internet use. But with 5G, the world of telecoms could well be revolutionized. The use of the 3.5 GHz frequency band makes the connections quite powerful, which promises to turn our daily lives upside down…

The development of virtual reality

More and more smartphones and mobile applications already integrate augmented reality. But with the deployment of 5G, its use will be popularized. Thanks to its ultra-fast speeds, simulation applications will multiply. This should benefit a large number of sectors such as tourism, retail or medicine.

The power of 5G will also have an impact on virtual reality (VR). Currently, there are two types of VR headsets: those that need to be connected to a powerful computer to work and those that can be used on the go, but lose a lot in quality. This makes it difficult to fully experience virtual reality.

Having said that, 5G makes it possible to watch videos in 8K quality while on the move. It will therefore be possible to use virtual reality on the move. Qualcomm is already working on the development of lightweight and more affordable VR headsets.

Many connected things

Already booming, with the arrival of 5G, the Internet of Things will experience a real boom. By 2023, the number of connected objects should increase fivefold. 5G is therefore a real challenge, as it will greatly improve the speed of data transmission. This should cause a real revolution in the home. Refrigerator, heating or coffee machine, with 5G, we are going straight to the advent of connected homes. It should also allow the development of new intelligent things.

Related article: What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)

Modernization of the industry

5G also promises to modernize industry. The speed of data transmission will make it possible to remotely control production lines. For example, an expert will be able to accompany a technician on the assembly of parts in real time. And this, even if they are thousands of kilometers away. The use of 5G will thus enable an increase in productivity.

Revolutionizing the health sector

With 5G, telemedicine will experience a real revolution. During a surgery, a specialist will be able to assist another surgeon in a complex operation by video. 5G will also enable real-time monitoring of hospitalized patients at home.

Improvements in the transport sector

5G will also be beneficial for transportation. In particular, its deployment will enable the emergence of autonomous vehicles that should be much more reliable. On the road, traffic lights should be equipped with sensors so that traffic can be better managed.

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