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

8 August, 2019
Samsung has officially launched the new Note 10 at their Galaxy Unpacked event in...
9 July, 2019
Vodafone has rolled out 5G coverage across the UK, rumours abound from Sony and Google....
27 June, 2019
See the latest news and events in mobile tech, including Facebook's new crypto wallets...
14 June, 2019
Google’s Pixel 4 leaks and one new craze: Pokémon Sleep. We’ve got the latest mobile...
6 June, 2019
Get the Lowdown on all the big news this week, with the latest exciting announcements...
14 May, 2019
For some of the best stories from Google’s I/O 2019 event plus some other exciting...
7 May, 2019
Apple’s first game in over ten years revamps an old-school classic, retweets get...
1 May, 2019
Get a roundup of the top mobile news from the last week. From the latest iOS 12.3...
23 April, 2019
From a Fortnite mashup with Marvel to some timely password advice, here’s a roundup...
16 April, 2019
Facebook plans to fold Messenger back into the main app, plus Skype will start screensharing...
11 April, 2019
Samsung unveiled a range of five Galaxy A-series phones, which included the Galaxy...
9 April, 2019
Android Q is to feature the popular iPhone feature ‘3D Touch’ when it rolls out later...