Thursday, April 15

Why 5G Service Might Not Be Worth It In 2020

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According to Samuel Contreras from Android Central, 5G now covers millions of people in the U.S. but there are a lot of reasons why 5G isn’t worth it for many people. The promise of better speeds and more consistency is great but 5G phones are still some of the most expensive available and many 5G plans are overpriced. For many people, LTE is more than fast enough and its coverage area is still much bigger than any 5G network.

No service

5G coverage has been improving but even with carriers now implementing sub-6 networks, many people still aren’t covered, especially if they live in a rural area. There’s no question that 5G will eventually get to most areas, just like 4G did, but for the time being, coverage is still limited.

Sub-6 on T-Mobile now covers more than 200 million people with its 600MHz network, but with speeds similar to 4G LTE, it’s not worth the connection drops between more developed areas.

Poor building penetration with mmWave 5G

The most dramatic 5G results we’ve seen so far are on mmWave 5G. This is the ultra high-frequency 5G capable of producing speeds well in excess of 1Gbps. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all use mmWave but Verizon is the only carrier using it exclusively for 5G. The problem is that you need to be very nearby or have a fairly direct line of sight to the tower. When the difference between having 5G and not is turning a corner on a street with buildings, it’s just not worth it until the whole area is covered.

5G isn’t fully cooked

5G started out mainly as mmWave with its impressive download speeds around 1Gbps in many places. Still, this type of 5G network has been slow to expand and today, the best 5G coverage is the result of sub-6 5G. The problem is that many of the original 5G phones to come out don’t support sub-6 such as AT&T’s, T-Mobile’s, and Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. If you had bought one of those phones, you’re left out of the majority of 5G expansion. Similarly, Sprint’s early devices only supported its 2.5GHz network and haven’t been able to be upgraded to support T-Mobile’s 600MHz network.

With continued expansion, it’s possible that a 5G phone purchased today won’t be able to keep up with network expansion in the future. This has been the case for T-Mobile’s Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G which only supports the 600MHz network.

Cheaper plans

Unless you’re on Sprint or T-Mobile, 5G service requires top-tier unlimited plans. This forces people that want 5G service to buy into a more expensive plan for what can only be described as an incomplete network. Verizon and AT&T both require 5G customers to subscribe to top unlimited plans with features many users don’t need or care about like music streaming services or cloud storage.

More phones

With only the newest high-end phones supporting the full array of 5G networks, there’s a good chance that the best phone for you doesn’t support 5G at all. Not only that, most cheap phones don’t support 5G which is where a lot of people prefer to shop. If you are buying a new phone in 2020, 5G still shouldn’t be at the top of the priority list.

Still, with 5G phones being more than capable of connecting to 4G, and the ability to disable 5G in the settings if coverage is spotty, upgrading to something like the Samsung Galaxy S20 will ensure you have support for 5G when it arrives while also supporting the full range of LTE bands.

You will still use a lot of LTE

No matter which carrier you’re on, you’re still going to find a lot of places where you drop back down to LTE. While LTE is fast enough for most of what people do on their phones, paying for 5G capabilities to only spend a lot of time can feel like a waste. With time, 5G coverage will more than likely come to cover the entire footprint of any LTE network, it’s not here just yet.

Source: Android Central