Since the official release of 5G licenses in 2019, there are millions of 5G base stations worldwide. China alone has over 700,000 5G base stations. Presently, hundreds of millions of 5G devices have been shipped globally. No doubt, 5G is achieving great results within just one year of release. However, with the continuous coverage of the 5G network and the increasing number of 5G mobile phones, ordinary consumers are paying more attention to the simplest question – HOW USEFUL IS 5G?
Some people may say that the 5G network speed is fast, downloading things is much faster than many broadbands, so what else?. After changing 5G phones and packages, there is no immediate improvement in perception. The key reason is that there is no support for adapting applications.
This is not the first tie that people will be asking this sort of question. When 3G transitioned to 4G, there were questions about how useful 4G is. However, we can not gainsay the importance of 4G. The recent emergence of video platforms and short video platforms made 4G so useful. However, it appears that 4G can deliver just enough and 5G is an overkill. How true is this?
Relative to 4G networks, 5G networks are fast but have “marginal effects”. In other words, we can meet these current needs by using 4G networks. The emergence of 5G networks does not improve the experience. In addition, this has something to do with the imperfection of the 5G construction itself. In short, relative to the “good publicity”, the actual 5G network seems a bit too “skinny”.
5G network reception is really not strong
Take the download speed that 5G focuses on as an example. Although mobile phone network speed is now as high as 300MB/s (about 30M/s), the 5G signal is not always good. This means that the network speed can be so slow that it delivers what 4G is offering.
Except in mega (first-class) cities where carriers are trying to win customers, 5G signal coverage is poor. It can be so poor that even the mobile phone cannot connect to the network. The network can also be so poor that even short messaging apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, etc) can not send messages. When this happens, the only solution is to turn off 5G and activate 4G.
If all that 5G is offering is network speed, then 4G is sufficient for a majority of people. You can stream videos seamlessly over 4G which runs really smoothly while 5G lags.
In many reports from different parts of the world, the 5G connection is really unstable. The average network speed for 4G is about 20Mbps. However, while 5G connection speed can get as high as 500 Mbps, it never really gets above 100 Mbps in many cases. Well, this is still high relative to 4G and it will be good only if it’s stable. The issue is, it is not always stable. According to multiple reports, 5G connection especially in the U.S. gets as low as 30Mbps – 50Mbps. If this is the case, why not just stick with 4G?
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Very high cost
Taking an example from China, the minimum 5G package is 129 yuan ($20) per month. This package offers 30GB of data and 500 minutes of voice calls. According to TENAA, an average data user in China consumes more than 30G monthly. For such users, the 5G package is not only expensive but also has no advantage in the total amount of traffic.
The current 5G package is still in the early stages of implementation. Thus, we expect that operators will reduce their fees as time progresses. The monthly starting fee of 129 yuan ($20) is not high among high-end user groups. For them, 5G can provide a better network experience and can also enhance brand stickiness in disguise.
In addition, the high monthly fee has also established a not-low threshold in disguise. It can avoid the influx of a large number of users in a short period of time, causing deterioration of network experience. This will ultimately seriously affect the reputation of the operator. In fact, at the beginning of 4G, it was not also cheap.
In addition to the factors above, 5G coverage will directly affect the user experience. First of all, we must understand that the coverage of 5G base stations is far inferior to the previous 3G and 4G base stations. A 4G base station can cover up to 1 kilometer, and a 3G base station can cover up to 5 kilometers. When it comes to a 5G base station, the coverage area is only about 300 meters. This means that we need a lot of base stations for the 5G network.
Taking China as an example again, in order to popularize 4G networks, it built about 3.4 million base stations. This accounts for 68% of the world’s total. These stations are only in big cities. This means that the rural areas get only 3G and 2G networks. The reason is also very simple, the cost is too high. The initial investment cost of a 4G base station is about 100,000 yuan ($15,286). For a 5G base station, this cost is about 600,000 yuan ($91,717). Obviously, there will not be enough base stations for everybody because of the cost.
This means that 80% of the value brought by 5G is not perceivable by ordinary users. If they can’t feel the gap with the 4G network within 20% of the area they can perceive, the “5G useless theory” cannot be eliminated.
The future of 5G is the future of society
Although the current application of 5G is not many, this does not mean that it has no future. The 5G network has important future applications in medicine, mining, and other areas. A simple example: the patient’s diagnostic image can be transmitted to the emergency doctor on the way to the hospital through 5G, and the corresponding diagnosis and treatment plan can be formulated even before the patient arrives at the hospital. This will save more lives s treatment will be almost instant.
All in all, for today’s users, the 5G network is really nothing “novel”. There are many users who use 4G mobile phones and 4G packages, and even many users will still be in the 5G “first-year”. 4G mobile phones and network is preferred at this point. Presently, if you spend more money to buy a 5G mobile phone and apply for a 5G package, there is almost no use other than the higher network speed on the speed test App.
You can say that you have not seen the opportunities brought by the 5G network, but you cannot easily conclude that 5G technology is useless. If the runway is still being paved, you call out to withdraw from the race, then the loss is more than just a tenth.