Another real-world 5G test

My son and I headed to Wembley a year ago and, while I was in the area, I decided to check out the new 5G connection that had popped up on my phone. Getting 5G back then was a hit-and-miss affair, and it was really only to be found in certain parts of major cities.

The test, which I will admit didn’t benefit from a full signal, resulted in 4G speeds of 71 Mbps and 5G speeds of 130 Mbps.

Today though, I find myself back in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham (due to all this). I’m having more chemo and, although I’ve got free WiFi, I spotted that – right outside my window – there’s a stack of mobile masts on the top of a tower block.

After checking via OpenSignal, I confirmed that my phone was indeed connected directly to that tower. This is something I detailed in my earlier post, and you can find your local mast easily with the app. The mast is, after checking with Google Maps, just 500 metres from me and – because I’m on the sixth floor of the hospital – I’ve got direct line of sight.

So, let’s do the speed tests again shall we? I’m using Vodafone and the speed testing site for this. As usual, there’s a stack of caveats – traffic management, the test server and capacity can impact the results. Also, I wouldn’t recommend doing too many speed tests yourself as it’ll soon eat into your data allowance.

My position is at the bottom, looking out of the window. The masts are on the upper left. Not far away at all.

Test one then, and I’m going to force the phone to stick to 4G. You can do this in the settings. I’m not sure why you’d ever want to do this, but you can..

A 68 Mbps download speed on 4G really isn’t bad at all. The upload on this 4G+ connection was around 10 Mbps. Now, let’s do the same test on the 5G connection which is being fed from the same location. Speeds really jump up here, and we end up with a speed that normally would only be seen by people on fibre optic connections at home. A massive 290 Mbps, and I’m sure if I’d done more tests it would’ve nudged a bit higher.

I’ve shown the additional detail on the screenshot below, and you can see that the upload speed has doubled to 20 Mbps

The upshot? Sure, on 4G the 68 Mbps speed is absolutely fine. It’s faster than a lot of home wired connections, but 5G gives a lower latency – a faster response, a bigger capacity and the ability to get things done much more quickly.