5G, the latest in cellular technology is finally here and as it continues to be rolled out across Australia in more and more areas, many are wondering whether 5G is an alternative to the nbn™ for their Internet needs.
The answer is complex and both have their role to play. What can be definitively stated is that 5G won't totally replace the nbn™, and the nbn™ will become much more widespread across Australia for some time to come. Ultimately, the technology solution is that the two will work effectively in collaboration, and Australian individuals and enterprises will ultimately benefit from having that choice available to them.
5G is a cellular technology that works in much the same way that 4G and 3G worked previously; a network of antennas ‘beam' signals which devices (typically mobile phones and some tablets) pick up, and through that system people can access the Internet from those devices.
The nbn™ meanwhile is a fixed line. That means that the data is sent through fibre wires to your location(some connection types for nbn™ use copper wires to make the final connection), and then accessed by a device (typically a modem/router) that is specifically designed to interact with this data and subsequently broadcast it at the location.
The back-end technology that allows this to happen is complex, but unnecessary for people to know. What consumers need to know is this - 5G is wireless and mobile, while the nbn™ is fixed to a single location.
There are certainly advantages to having mobile Internet. If you move locations, for example, you can take your Internet with you, as long as there's 5G coverage at your new location. The devices that access 5G networks can also be small and portable (your smart phone for example), allowing you to use the Internet anywhere - you can work from a café or watch movies by the poolside of a holiday resort as easily as you can from home or the office.
5G is also, currently, faster than the nbn™. The minimum speed that 5G users can expect is 50Mbps, and in controlled testing, the technology has delivered speeds of as high as 20Gbps. On the other hand, the very fastest nbn™ plan offers a download speed of 1000Mbps (with some drop-off in evenings), and that's only for a small number of people with access to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP). Most nbn™ users can only access maximum speeds of 100Mbps, or even 50Mbps.*
However, 5G also suffers some significant disadvantages. Coverage is one - currently 5G coverage is limited and where there are ‘black spots' or a lack of 5G towers, there is no 5G Internet (however your device should revert back to 4G network in these cases). So, purely on a geographic basis, it will be quite some time before 5G access becomes anywhere near ubiquitous enough to be a threat of ‘replacing' the nbn™.
Assuming that you can access both 5G and the nbn™, there are a couple of different considerations to take into account in determining which option is right for you.
Speeds: 5G home internet speeds are considerably faster than most NBN plans currently on the market. A very common NBN plan is 50Mbps. At the high end, a select few providers can offer an nbn plan of up to 1000Mbps,although you would need to have FTTP to avail of this plan. 5G home internet has an average speed of 239Mbps.
Cost: NBN plans tend to be cheaper than 5G home internet. This is a general observation and there are exceptions to this across RSPs.
Latency: Both 5G and the nbn™ offer low latency. The technology however used to connect to the nbn™ can affect latency. For example, FTTP would experience lower latency than FTTN due to FTTN utilising copper wires to connect the premises to the nbn™.
Setup: The nbn™ does have a setup period; you need to contact an RSP, who may need to have a technician from NBNco come out and activate the premises if NBN is not already connected and that process can take a number of weeks. With 5G, you will need a 5G modem and then you can just plug it into a power outlet at home and connect to the internet.
Data: 5G home internet offers unlimited data. With NBN, you have the options of capped and unlimited data.
It's also worth noting that there are fewer options when it comes to 5G, with only a handful of mobile wireless providers, and each of them serving different parts of Australia. The nbn™ provides Australians with a plethora of RSPs to choose between, anywhere in Australia, and this allows for both competition and added services to flourish.
In short, 5G is the newer technology on the market, and it has advantages over the nbn™. However, it also has a lot of hurdles to overcome before it can go mainstream, and for now most Australians will get better value from their nbn™ connections.
Still not sure what option is right for you? Contact one of the SpinTel team to discuss. We offer both 5G and nbn™ plans, and our only goal is to make sure you get the Internet access that you need for your work and lifestyle.
* Disclaimer: This example is a theoretical breakdown of how the 5G technology could perform against the NBN. It does not reference any specific plan or product sold by SpinTel or any of its competitors, but rather serves to illustrate the potential of 5G technology.