JUL 20, 2024

What exactly is 5G? 

You probably see the little 5G symbol in the corner of your mobile phone a hundred times a day. But what does it actually mean? 

5G doesn’t just apply to mobile phones either, it’s important to understand that it’s relevant for your home internet setup too. Here we’ll tell you everything you need to know about 5G technology, including how it compares to other network options, plus how to find out whether you have access to it where you live!

What is 5G?

5G home internet and mobile is a cellular network offered in Australia. A network is made up of service areas that are divided into small geographical areas called ‘cells’. Then every 5G wireless device within that cell is connected to both the internet and the telephone network via radio waves. If that’s a bit complicated to remember, then all you really need to know is that 5G is what connects your devices to the internet and phone network. 

5G gets its name because it is the fifth generation of technology of its kind, following (the creatively named!) 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G. 

So, what’s improved from the previous generations, for example 4G vs 5G? 

5G has faster download speeds, more bandwidth (which means it’s faster to use in general), and can connect to more devices at once without losing the plot. This is especially handy in a public place where a lot of people are all using the 5G network at the same time as you.

A fun fact: 5G internet explained

A fun fact: 5G internet explained

5G isn’t something physical you can touch. It’s wireless technology made by radio waves, so any physical technology (like a mobile phone or 5G modem) is actually just equipment that supports the 5G network.

Is 5G better than NBN? 

That depends. Both have positives and negatives and ultimately it may come down to what’s available in your area. 

Firstly, it’s important to understand what NBN (National Broadband Network) actually is. The NBN is a government initiative that started in 2011 with a goal to bring fast internet to Australia. Before this, we were operating with an ‘old school’ copper telephone network as the main way for people to access the internet. Remember dial-up internet?  

NBN uses a mix of technologies, including fibre optic cables, hybrid fibre coaxial cable (mainly used for Pay TV) and it even still has some parts of the former copper telephone network. However, NBN is faster and has more bandwidth than its predecessor. It can also carry data a lot further than the old copper cables could, which helps with download speeds and minimises outages. 

But how do you decide whether 5G or NBN will be better for you?

NBN is more commonly used for home internet, as 5G is a newer technology. Most people in Australia now have access to the NBN, whereas fewer will have access to 5G (for now!). 

NBN is generally really reliable, and isn’t too affected by weather conditions and other interference — although this will depend on how good your Wi-Fi network is too.

One thing that’s important to note is that there are actually different types of NBN. Without getting too technical, depending on where you live, your telephone network may have had various levels of upgrades. So, confusingly it is a little bit case-by-case as to whether NBN will be the best option for you.

In contrast to NBN, 5G is a newer technology, so a big factor in whether you choose it or not will be whether it’s available to you. It’s generally really fast (and subject to what version of NBN your area has, it could be much faster than that) but it might not always be as reliable as it can be affected by weather or even physical barriers like walls! 

Also, while 5G is definitely able to support more users than previous generations of wireless technology, if there are a LOT of people on the network, it can slow it down.

Need help setting up a 5G phone?

Need help setting up a 5G phone?

You need a Geek! Our mobile phone setup service will cover the initial setup of your phone, connection to your home internet, pairing of up to three Bluetooth/smart devices and more!

Learn more

Is 5G available in my area?

The best way to find out whether you have access to 5G is to visit the website of your telecom provider to learn about what they offer (such as Telstra 5G home internet). On their website, you’ll be able to enter your address and they will tell you what 5G coverage map is available in your area. Or if you’re not sure who your provider is, just Google “5G towers near me” and that should be a good starting point.

Alternatively, contact them over the phone, email or live chat (whatever you find to be the most effective way to communicate with them) and they should be able to talk you through your various network options.

Ready to make the switch to 5G?

You can find a wide range of 5G-enabled devices from Officeworks. Once you’ve picked the right one for you, Geeks2U can help set it up!

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Amy Joseph
I'm Amy, a commercial and creative writer with more than 10 years' experience, working in industries including travel, tech, health, fitness, finance and more.