What Is 5G Home Broadband?

5G broadband is the latest innovation in home internet, promising lightning-quick speeds. But how does it work and is it a good alternative to standard, wired broadband? Here’s what the 5G revolution could mean for your home.

5G broadband is the latest innovation in home internet, promising lightning-quick speeds. But how does it work and is it a good alternative to standard, wired broadband? Here’s what the 5G revolution could mean for your home.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
6
minute read
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Posted 12 NOVEMBER 2021

What is 5G? 

5G is the fifth and newest generation of mobile technology, following on from 4G and 3G. It not only offers much faster download and upload speeds than the earlier generations, but also less lag time, so you can stream and game without any annoying delays. 

When we think about 5G, most of us would probably associate it with mobile phones. But the same technology can also be used for a home broadband connection. 

Want to download a HD movie in seconds? Or stream your favourite TV shows in 8K? 5G can do that. See how else 5G could change our lives.

How does 5G broadband work? 

5G broadband lets you get online without the need for a phone line or fibre optic cable. It works in a similar way to the latest smartphones, using a 5G mobile signal and connecting to the internet via a 5G-enabled SIM card. But instead of the SIM being in a mobile phone, it’s in a home router. This sends out a WiFi signal for all your devices, like laptops, smartphones and tablets, to connect to at once. 

Connecting devices don’t need to be 5G-enabled for them to work with a 5G home router, so there’s no need to buy loads of compatible new kit. 

The router will have to be connected to a power socket, but it won’t need to be fixed to a phone line like a traditional router.

Can you get 5G in your home? 

If you live in an area with a 5G signal already in place, you’ll be able to run your home internet on 5G by signing up to a 5G broadband deal. This will usually involve paying a monthly bill like you would with a standard broadband contract. You’ll be sent a 5G broadband router and SIM by your provider. Then all you have to do is plug in, switch on and connect. 

As we’re still in the early stages of the rollout across the UK, 5G is not yet available everywhere, particularly in rural locations. So, if your area doesn’t currently have 5G, unfortunately you’ll have to wait before you can choose a 5G home internet deal.

Mobile networks Three, Vodafone and EE all offer 5G broadband plans, ranging from rolling monthly contracts to 24-month contracts, so you can check whether any of these are available in your area.

How fast is your typical home broadband? 

Home broadband speeds depend on your provider, package and where you live but, overall, they have been getting faster as the fibre technology has progressed. 

The average download speed of broadband in UK homes now stands at 50.4Mbps, according to the latest Ofcom data (September 2021). The speed has increased by 20% compared with November 2019, as households upgraded to faster speeds during the pandemic. 

Around 85% of connections are superfast (30Mbps or higher), while 5% are ultrafast (300Mbps or higher).

How fast is 5G home broadband? 

In theory, 5G has the potential to reach speeds of over 20Gbps (gigabits per second). But, right now, we’re a long way off that – with 1Gbps a more realistic target once networks are upgraded. 

The fastest 5G home broadband speed you’ll get depends on the strength of the 5G signal where you live and who your network provider is. Those who are based in UK towns and cities with excellent 5G coverage are currently best placed to receive ultrafast broadband speeds as the comms revolution to takes hold. 

These are the average 5G speeds offered by the main network providers: 

  • Vodafone  – 150-200Mbps
  • EE  – 150Mbps
  • Three  – 100Mbps 

These kinds of speeds are in line with some of the top-end fixed broadband deals available, but are considerably higher than the current 50.4Mbps home broadband average.

What are the advantages of 5G home broadband? 

Along with speed, there are many benefits of 5G home internet, including: 

  • Capacity: 5G broadband is ideal for large households as it’s capable of handling a large number of devices and users at once without interruption.
  • Portability: As 5G isn’t fixed to one address like standard broadband, you can take it with you if you go on holiday or move home.
  • Easy set-up: 5G offers you a convenient way to get online quickly, without the hassle of installing cables to your home or the need for an engineer to visit.

What are the disadvantages of 5G home broadband? 

While 5G broadband has many benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks, including: 

  • Limited coverage: 5G is still being rolled out so might not yet be available in your area. Rural households may have the longest wait for 5G.
  • Limited choice: With only a small number of providers currently offering 5G home broadband, your choice of packages may be very limited.
  • Reception issues: 5G WiFi works well in most homes, but the signal can sometimes be interrupted by physical obstructions like thick walls and bulky furniture. This could cause a patchy reception in larger properties.

Is 5G home broadband worth it? 

5G broadband is set to be a game-changer, reaching speeds that at one time would have been unimaginable. And as availability widens across the UK, many households could see it as a convenient and superior alternative to standard broadband. 

That said, it’s worth considering that just as 5G technology advances, so does wired broadband. The rollout of full fibre broadband networks is continuing at pace, making gigabit speeds available to more homes and businesses every day.

Not only that, the next generation of WiFi – WiFi 6 – is on the horizon. Like 5G, this will be much better at handling multiple devices at once, resulting in faster speeds and less lag time. 

So, whether 5G is worth it or not really depends on your individual circumstances. If you can’t get fibre broadband where you live or you’re not satisfied with your existing service, 5G home broadband could be a good option. It’s also handy for short-term needs or as a back-up in case your fixed-line connection goes down.

Where can you find 5G home broadband deals? 

5G home broadband deals are not widespread at the moment and will only be available to a relatively small number of people. If 5G isn’t in your area yet but you still want faster broadband speeds, you can check out great-value fibre broadband deals here at Compare the Market. 

Simply type in your postcode and we’ll show you a list of deals in your area from our panel of leading providers. You can order the results by speed, contract length and overall price to find a deal that’s right for you.

Frequently asked questions

How much does 5G home broadband cost?

As you’d expect from the latest technology, you may have to pay more for 5G WiFi than a standard plan. Costs will depend on the broadband package you choose, how long your contract runs for and which provider you choose. 

Three’s 5G Hub comes with unlimited home broadband for £30 a month *, while Vodafone’s GigaCube unlimited data plan costs £60 a month * but promises speeds of up to 1Gbps depending on local conditions. 

*Prices correct as of October 2021.

When do you need to upgrade your home broadband?

A good time to upgrade your home WiFi is when your existing contract ends. That way, you won’t have to pay an early exit fee to quit your deal early. 

With more people working from home now, there’s more demand for a broadband connection that’s fast and reliable. Thanks to its lightning speeds, 5G offers huge benefits for those who need to download lots of large files – and very little equipment is needed once a 5G network is in place.

Can you get 5G broadband for your business?

Yes, many businesses are already starting to adopt private 5G networks, which don’t rely on the public rollout. You can use 5G broadband to connect a large number of smart devices, including laptops, tablets, phones and printers. The portable nature of 5G WiFi also means you can take it with you to construction sites and marquee events, for example, that don’t have broadband infrastructure installed.

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