Africa Facts Q&ATips

5 most frequently asked questions about 5G answered

The first 5G networks in some countries are operational, and the first smartphones with which you can access that high-speed network are in the shops. Is it time to jump on the cart yet? The five most frequently asked questions about 5G answered in a row.

What does ‘5G’ actually mean?

The ‘G’ stands for ‘generation’. So we are facing the fifth technological leap that mobile data has made. The other G’s go back almost forty years:

1G – The first generation of mobile telephones dates from 1983: the devices – mostly car telephones – could only provide voice telephony.

2G – In the early 1990s, mobile phones came onto the market: you could make calls with them, but they could also transmit simple data. We saw the rise of SMS, MMS, and (who remembers that?) WAP.

3G – Under the heading ‘3G’ several advanced mobile phone services could be accommodated. Advanced telephones from the early 2000s benefited from the – by today’s standards very poor – internet speed brought in by the third generation.

4G – The current generation of data connections was, a decade ago, the first to deliver mobile internet without any hitches. 4G makes, among other things, smooth web surfing or YouTube watching on the smartphone, but the connection is not yet as fast as those who offer wireless internet.

What can you do with 5G now?

If you met the technical requirements, why would you switch to 5G? To begin with, your speed will be a lot higher than that of 4G mobile phone data. The difference is not minus. Downloading a packet of data of 5 gigabytes – say a film of about two hours in 4K quality – takes about six minutes on a 4G network. Via 5G, you get the same film in 40 seconds.

Quite a few users will find that speed gain – rightly – just a little too little difference to invest in a new smartphone and perhaps a more expensive subscription. But it’s about more than just speed. 5G, in its ultimate supreme form, mainly provides more bandwidth.

Think of it as a wider tube through which more wafer-thin threads can be drawn. This means, among other things, that future YouTube videos will not only arrive without a hitch but also with nicer image quality.

Certainly, gamers will be happy with the more consistent bandwidth to play ‘Fortnite’, ‘Call of Duty’ ‘Mobile’ or ‘PUBG Mobile’ against their friends. This sometimes caused annoying sputtering on 4G networks.

Will 5G make WiFi obsolete?

Most experts believe that 5G and WiFi will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future, with the two networks complementing each other rather than competing. Currently, WiFi – particularly fiber optic connectivity – provides the fastest, most affordable internet connection for home and office use.

Will 5G be avaiabe in Africa?

Yes! 5G is already in Africa. While the rest of the world races to make the technology become the standard, it is pretty clear that mass adoption of the 5G networks is not yet on the cards in Africa. In fact, the 5G networks launched by Vodacom and MTN in South Africa are the only ones in operation across sub-Saharan Africa. Deployment remains in infancy stages elsewhere on the continent, with trials conducted in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Which smartphones can work with 5G?

The first smartphones with 5G have been on the market since 2020. They are now relatively numerous. Well-known smartphone models such as the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 have 5G. But it does not stop with those ‘flagship’ products: you can already find 5G-worthy devices for 300 euros, such as the 5G edition of the OnePlus Nord.

Nzegwu

When I am not online, I will be in my inbox reading emails. Feel free to mail me. Email: nzegwu@afrinik.com

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