5G – Not quite ready yet

Back in August I parked up near Wembley Stadium to do some “real world” tests with a 5G phone. I did this because I’d seen testers competing to get the highest speeds possible. Usually this involved someone waiting for a quiet day – like a Sunday morning – then tracking down a mast, standing next to the thing and performing continual tests until they got a headline figure.

That, though, isn’t how people use phones. In reality, you’re walking down the street and the signal is bouncing off buildings. You’re moving on a train or in a bus. You’re on the edge of a signal or your passing through a cell – you’re rarely stood right in front of a mast with nobody else using it.

So, in real life, it was not the massive jump in speed many were expecting. Today BBC Tech journalist Rory Cellan-Jones found a very similar experience. Walking around London, in very specific circumstances and when close to a 5G mast, he’d get a very rapid 5G connection. However, for everywhere else, the speeds were a little disappointing.

In the BBC news piece it’s apparent that a lot more needs to be done to get 5G coverage improved – even in the middle of major cities like London. In the future we’re bound to see lots of mini-5G masts, like those seen during our Chinese trip to the Huawei HQ. Without these, for a little while yet, 4G will continue to be the main source of your internet data.