The future of mobile broadband is 5G, and despite some setbacks with the establishment of UK infrastructure, 5G home broadband will soon be a viable alternative to the traditional fixed broadband we are much more familiar with.
How does 5G broadband work?
5G broadband works much the same as 5G smartphones. 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for mobile networks, following on from its 3G and 4G predecessors. And where 3G technology ushered in the smartphone age and 4G has enabled faster browsing and richer media, 5G will transform how mobile phones and mobile broadband work.
5G works similarly to 4G, with 5G networks using the same airwaves as 4G to transmit information to and from mobile devices. However, unlike 4G channels which mostly run around 20 MHz, 5G channels can go up to 100 MHz with some networks using up to 800 MHz at a time.
This essentially means that 5G is exponentially faster than 4G. For example, 4G in the UK has average speeds of 20 Mbps, while 5G speeds in the UK could be up to 20 times faster at 400 Mbps, and have the potential to reach 20 Gbps in the time.
5G broadband works by incorporating this new technology into a mobile broadband Wi-Fi hub rather than a smartphone, connecting to devices via a Wi-Fi signal in the same way as standard fixed broadband routers.
It therefore effectively becomes a wireless alternative to the fixed line. broadband, which means you can access fantastic broadband speeds without the need for a wired connection at home – like a fiber optic cable or a copper phone line.
With 5G home broadband, your mobile devices don’t need to support 5G, just Wi-Fi.
Mobile broadband explained
Mobile broadband uses a router with a SIM card, rather than a router connected to a home fixed broadband line. The mobile broadband hub connects to a nearby mobile mast the same way your smartphone does. You can then connect your smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and any other device in your home to the router via Wi-Fi.
Some mobile broadband routers are also battery powered, which means you can effectively take your broadband connection with you wherever you go.
Can I use 5G for home internet?
If you live in an area with a 5G signal, you will be able to use 5G for your home internet. All you need to do is get yourself a 5G home broadband router. If you’re not yet in an area covered by 5G, you’ll need to wait for the technology to become available before choosing a 5G home broadband deal.
How do 5G routers work?
5G routers work much the same as a regular fixed broadband router, and for the most part, a 5G router will look the same as a regular broadband router.
However, some vendors also offer more sophisticated 5G hubs. Three, for example, will provide you with either the Huawei B535 WebBox wireless router or the Huawei AI Cube, which is a combined Wi-Fi hotspot and smart speaker.
While both 5G hubs need to be plugged into a power source, they obviously don’t need to be connected to a phone jack. So you are free to place your 5G hub where you think you need it most.
Configure a 5G home router
Most home broadband routers are very easy to set up these days; all you need to do is plug the router into the main Internet outlet as well as an electrical outlet.
When setting up a 5G home router, you will still need to plug it in, but you will also need to insert a SIM card that will allow it to connect to a mobile network. However, in some cases the SIM card will come preinstalled, meaning you’re ready to start browsing as soon as you plug in your router, turn it on, and log in.
It is important to think about the location of your 5G home router. For a standard router, you would want to keep it away from electronics, large furniture, and thick walls to help the Wi-Fi signal spread throughout your home.
For a 5G router, you’ll want to position it where it can get the best 5G signal. 5G isn’t as penetrating through obstacles as 4G, so it’s best to find the optimal area in your home. This may be different from your standard router, so it’s best to test a few different locations, like on a window sill or in an upstairs room. It’s also worth rotating your 5G router once it’s in position to see which angle picks up the best 5G signal.
If there is an app available from your 5G broadband service provider, it may be able to give you additional information about the location of your 5G router in order to get the best signal.
What are the 5G speeds in the UK?
How much 5G speed you’ll be able to achieve depends on a number of factors including your location and network provider. The main players in the 5G mobile space are Vodafone, EE and Three, which each cite their own range of expected speeds. Vodafone said customers can expect average 5G speeds of around 150-200Mbps and EE claimed a 5G speed range of 130-240Mbps.
Meanwhile, Three offers a 5G home broadband plan with speeds of 100 Mbps, but it has rights to more 5G spectrum –– and more contiguous 5G spectrum –– than any other network, so expect that. that this will increase much more in the years to come.
A report from Openignal in May 2020 showed the UK’s average 5G download speed to be 138.1 Mbps across all networks tested, which appears to be in line with what individual networks are predicting.
How fast is 5G in the UK?
There is clearly a lot of variation between networks and locations, but we’ve seen firsthand how fast 5G speeds in the UK can be.
Don’t know what your current speed is? Run our broadband speed test to see if you have faster speeds.
Which UK providers offer 5G broadband?
At this early stage, there is still very little adoption of 5G, but networks that offer 5G mobile services are also branching out to include 5G broadband offering.
Three 5G broadband
Among the major 5G vendors, Three is primarily focused on 5G broadband.
Three provides 5G broadband through its HomeFi Plus Wi-Fi router, which can connect up to 64 devices to its wireless network, or the Huawei AI Cube, which is a combined Wi-Fi hotspot and smart speaker.
You can sign up for 12-month and 24-month 3G 5G contracts or choose a rolling monthly plan that comes with setup fees, both of which are available with unlimited data plans.
Vodafone 5G broadband
Vodafone 5G broadband is provided by its GigaCube portable wireless router which can let you setup and connect to Wi-Fi within minutes. Vodafone 5G broadband contracts are 18-month or 30-day rolling contracts with a fixed data allowance.
EE 5G home broadband
EE 5G home broadband is available in some locations and is provided through its 5GEE home router. Average 5G speeds on EE are around 150Mbps, and setup is quick and easy without the need for a phone line or engineer.
Will 5G replace broadband?
5G broadband is about to be revolutionary, bringing incredible speeds to new places that are still struggling with ADSL broadband. 5G technology will also increase the capabilities of many devices currently limited by their ability to stay connected to a Wi-Fi signal.
However, it should be remembered that as 5G mobile broadband technology advances, so does fixed broadband technology. The deployment of all-fiber broadband networks is underway, increasing the accessibility of gigabit speeds to homes and businesses across the country. In fact, in many places, all-fiber broadband is easier and cheaper for local governments to install than a large network of 5G broadcast towers, especially in rural areas.
On top of that, Wi-Fi 6 –– the next generation of Wi-Fi based on current Wi-Fi 5 technology –– will be able to provide 40% faster Wi-Fi speeds for fixed broadband in the home. than currently. It will also be much more capable of handling multiple devices at once, which will have a significant impact on public Wi-Fi in places such as airports or entertainment venues.
Discover our best 5G broadband offers. If 5G isn’t available in your area but you still want faster broadband speeds, check out our best fiber broadband offers.