5 things you need to know about 5G
Conor Dever
Staff Writer

What is it? Is it any relation to 4G? And all of your other questions finally answered about the new technology.

The newest innovation in cellular wireless technology has a simple name but most people probably have no idea what it means or does.

So we're here to take a look at 5G and tell you everything you need to know about the new technology.

1) What is 5G?

5G stands for fifth generation cellular wireless. Think of it as the sequel to 4G and 3G, except a rare sequel which will improve the franchise.

5G enables faster speeds due to operating on a higher frequency than 4G or 3G.

2) How is 5G different to 4G or 3G?


If, like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, you have a need for speed, you will have a need for 5G.

5G promises to increase the current speeds you can get by a staggering factor of 10.

At 225Mb, Vodafone currently offers the fastest 4G in Ireland. But with 5G, speeds of over 2,000Mb could be possible.

As always, however, the exact speed you'll get will depend on many things such as your signal strength, the quality of the network you're on and your geographic location. However speeds of 500Mb should be widely achievable for most.     

3) 5G and the National Broadband Plan

Now at this stage if you're sitting in a rural area that has pretty poor internet, due in no small part to the massive delays to the long promised National Broadband Plan (NBP), you’re probably thinking: “Wouldn't it be great to implement that sort of technology in rural Ireland to give people faster internet?”

And you wouldn’t be wrong.

Vodafone is already trialling 5G technology across the country to see how it can be used to bring high-speed internet to people in more rural areas. Three and Eir also have plans to trial their own 5G services some time this year.

Also, an advantage of 5G is that the process for installing the infrastructure doesn't require digging up every road and driveway around the country in order to lay down fibre optic cables, but rather focuses on installing phone masts in various locations nationwide.

Nevertheless, 5G can't be the sole solution for connecting rural Ireland.

The masts which broadcast out the 5G signal still need to be connected to fibre cables, so that infrastructure still needs to be put in place first.

Also, as the range of the 5G signal is more limited than 4G, thousands and thousands of new masts, often in picturesque locations, would need to be erected nationwide, no doubt infuriating local conservationists. And because of the shorter signal, many say that 5G will not solve the problem of bringing high-speed internet to those in the most remote regions of Ireland. So these are some of the reasons why the Government has decided to proceed with the NPB as opposed to using 5G technology instead. 

However 5G will still play an important role in bringing coverage to the underserved and may even form some part of the NBP itself.

4) Changes 5G will enable

So now that we know what 5G is, let's look at what it can do.

Faster internet speeds will enable lots of things.

The higher speeds will be able to facilitate everything from streaming Netflix in perfect quality on your train journey home, to allowing you join in on online lectures and conference calls buffer-free. And hologram phone calls will no longer be the preserve of sci-fi movies and will be possible from your very own smartphone.  

5G will also improve latency. This is the time lag between a signal being sent and received. The low latency with 5G makes it highly suitable for technologies that require rapid responsiveness with no time delays, such as self-driving cars.

Most observers also expect 5G to help the Internet of Things, where almost every household device can be connected to the internet or each other, finally live up to its potential.

Quite simply, in the increasingly connected society that we are building, faster mobile speeds will change the way we live and work.

5) When will we see 5G?

The most complicated thing about 5G is trying to guess when we will see it in Ireland.

As is the case with most technologies, we're often a bit behind other bigger countries. At the moment various providers in the UK and the US are already looking at rolling out 5G mobile plans in late 2019. However, it could be another year or so before we see it widely available to mobile customers in Ireland.

However, as mentioned above, Vodafone is currently trialling the tech for use with rural broadband, with Three and Eir following suit, so hopefully we'll see that become an option for rural broadband users as soon as possible.

When they do roll out 5G you may need to update your smartphone to make sure you can use it though. Currently the only 5G compatible phone available to Irish consumers is the Samsung Galaxy S10, with Apple not planning to release a 5G phone until 2020 at least.

So what do you think?

Do you have trouble accessing high-speed broadband in your area? Does the prospect of 5G technology excite you?

Get in touch as we love hearing from you. Comment below, tweet us @bonkers_ie or get in touch with us on Facebook.

And finally, if you're stuck waiting for the NBP and 5G to be delivered remember to check the alternatives. Providers such as Eir, SIRO and Virgin are constantly rolling out their high-speed networks to more and more homes nationwide while satellite broadband from providers like Bigblu is a potential solution for those who can’t get fibre just yet.

On bonkers.ie you can quickly check what speeds and providers are available in your area with our broadband comparison service. Just type in your address or eircode and we'll take it from there!