With all of the hype surrounding 5G, you wouldn’t be out of line to expect a dramatically different experience from your current 4G LTE connection when those first 5G networks go live over the next couple of years. Unless you are talking to T-Mobile, who said yesterday that you might want to cool expectations, at least at first.
Speaking with PCMag, Karri Kuoppamaki, T-Mobile’s VP of radio network technology development and strategy, said that you should really expect a 25-50% increase in speeds from their network out of the gate, rather than the wild Gigabit+ speeds that others like to show off in demos and speak of in theoretical terms. While it’s realistic to think that we will get to multi-Gigabit speeds, it may take some time or depend on the carrier you are attached to.
Verizon and AT&T will use millimeter wave (mmW) technology to build out a 5G network, and mmW should increase speeds. The problem there is that mmW cell sites don’t cover big areas and are more of a hotspot setup. T-Mobile will use its 600MHz network for 5G at first, which is better at covering distance, rather than giving you short-distance boosts. They’ll then build on that with mmW. So that’s why you’ll see only that 25-50% increase in speeds over 4G LTE at first.
Of course, this 5G buildout from everyone is going to take time. Whether you see hotspots of Gigabit speeds or a 50% boost, just know that the long game will be the future you keep hearing about.