4G and beyond - the future of mobile data

Mobile internet has come a long way since 2G was launched around 20 years ago but what will the future hold for bits and bytes in the ether?
4G and beyond - the future of mobile data

Mobile internet has come a long way since 2G was launched around 20 years ago. That advancement isn’t showing any signs of stopping either. 4G arrived in London just 18 months ago with EE’s LTE network and now the company has started rolling out 4.5G, more commonly known as LTE-Advanced.

So where will the future take mobile internet? And do we really need our internet speeds to get even faster?


The immediate future for the UK is a wider rollout of 4G. You can find out more about 4G on our 4G Comparison Hub. At the moment, EE has the largest 4G network and covers just over 60 per cent of people. But by the end of 2015, EE, O2, Vodafone and Three should all cover 98 per cent of people, bringing superfast internet to more homes than ever with speeds of up to 60Mb per second.

As we mentioned above, EE is already looking beyond 4G with LTE-Advanced. It launched the world’s fastest mobile data connection in London with speeds hitting nearly 300Mb per second. For now this is reserved for big businesses in the City of London but after EE finishes its 4G rollout in 2015, we could see the LTE-Advanced network spread out to ordinary customers. That would let you stream Netflix in 4K Ultra HD with only a couple of seconds of buffering.

If LTE-Advanced sounds like it would be more than enough for anyone’s needs, you might be surprised to hear that companies like Huawei and South Korean Telecom (SKT) are already testing 5G. In fact, SKT says it wants to start rolling out 5G with speeds up to 1GB (1,000Mb) per second by 2020. That would let you download a Full HD movie in a couple of seconds.

Beyond 5G is hard to guess right now. But considering SKT plans to take mobile internet speeds from around 70Mb per second in 2013 to 1GB per second in 2020, we can expect it to be fast. In a controlled test at the start of this year, BT managed to get the world’s fastest wired broadband connection at 1,400GB per second. So 6G or even 7G could see this sort of speed sent through the air.


Right now, anything more than LTE-Advanced on a normal person’s mobile would be pointless. If you want to stream HD movies while on the bus then the 300Mb per second speeds would be plenty. For most of us at the moment, though, we have to make do with a bit more buffering time over the 4G networks, or watch a grainier picture in standard definition over 3G.

But by 2020, when SK Telecom thinks it’ll have the first commercially available 5G network, we’ll have all new devices and have completely changed the way we use them. In the mid-90s when 2G launched, the average web page was just 40Kb in size and would load in a couple of seconds. Now, the average web page is around 1.5MB, meaning you’d be waiting minutes to read a news article if you were stuck on 2G. So by the time 5G arrives, we’re sure we’ll all want it, and some of us will need it.

Topics:  , , ,

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

comments powered by Disqus
If you find yourself confused by the mention of 5G, don't worry. We answer any questions you may hav
Did you know... whenever you access the internet through your smartphone, you’re using data. But how
The time has come for your home and your life to get even smarter - but what will it really be like

23 October, 2020
Apple’s iOS operating system has always put user experience front and centre. Here's...
15 October, 2020
The latest addition to Samsung’s S20 range is here. The S20 FE is designed to deliver...
13 October, 2020
Everything you need to know about the iPhone 12 - including cameras, 5G capability,...
1 October, 2020
Excited to hear about the latest addition to Google's smartphone range? Read on to...
5 August, 2020
Get the news and latest on the Galaxy Note20, Galaxy Tab S7s, Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy...
27 March, 2020
Looking for a next-level camera for perfect pictures and super smooth video? Then...
11 February, 2020
Excited for the Galaxy S20? Get the tech and specs for the S20, S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra...
15 November, 2019
Excited for Android 10? Here’s our round up of the best new features including Dark...
18 October, 2019
Excited about the new OPPO Reno 2? We check out the Quad cameras, battery life and...
15 October, 2019
Ready for the new Google Pixel 4 and 4? We get all the latest news about cameras,...
24 September, 2019
Excited about the new Google Pixel 4? We get all the latest news about cameras, battery...
10 September, 2019
Want to buy an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or an iPhone 11 Pro? Find out the specs and...