Long-awaited 5G speed boost is now really coming: this is what you can expect

5G speed boost

This article was last updated on July 3, 2024

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Long-awaited 5G speed boost is now really coming: this is what you can expect

Chances are you’ve been seeing it at the top of your phone screen for a few years now: 5G. The number-letter combination says something about the mobile network your phone is connected to. The promise of 5G is much faster internet, but so far that has been quite disappointing. The intention is for this to change quickly.

Yesterday a frequency auction was completed which will change a lot. It is a moment that consumers, but also telecom providers, have been looking forward to. Five questions and answers about what this will mean.

I already have 5G, what changes now?

There is a good chance that you already have 5G on your phone and that the difference with 4G is not even that big. That has everything to do with technology. It works like this: mobile networks run on frequencies. Since 2020, 5G has been running on 700 MHz: this frequency band has a long range, but is not that much faster. 3.5 GHz is now added. It has a somewhat smaller range, but much more speed and capacity.

With that 700 MHz, providers could quite easily set up an (almost) comprehensive 5G network. But the step from 4G to 5G was not as big as the promise, really high internet speeds would only come with 3.5 GHz.

What will I be able to do with 5G?

It will provide faster mobile internet and more capacity. “You have to compare it a bit with the number of lanes on the highway,” says Toon Norp, who conducts research into mobile telecom at TNO. “Those frequencies mean that extra lanes will be added. Then you can drive faster or handle more traffic.”

In practice, this should ensure, for example, that the internet is much better in busy places – such as a festival or a sports match. Norp expects that in general mobile internet speeds will be hundreds of megabits per second. In busy places you should be able to achieve 100 megabits per second.

Why is this expansion only coming now?

The extra frequency space that is now in the hands of the telecom providers was first used for satellite traffic. This happened from Burum in Friesland, where large listening dishes are located. The 3.5 GHz band was therefore not allowed to be used above the Amsterdam-Zwolle line.

What do companies want with it?

For companies, 5G should help them develop smarter applications and innovations. Think of self-driving vehicles or robots in factories. Doctors would have an easier time with better video connections patients remotely can help, even in emergency situations.

The port of Rotterdam has announced that it can automate container transhipment much more efficiently and faster via 5G. Drones for security and various vessels and vehicles can also be controlled remotely better and smarter. The port says it has already tested this. Schiphol also says it will use 5G for innovations, such as automation in the baggage basement.

Who will offer it?

These are the three Dutch providers with their own network: KPN, VodafoneZiggo and Odidio (formerly T-Mobile). The Ministry of Economic Affairs states that companies can start using their frequencies this month. Customers with devices that support 5G should immediately notice this.

Odido has announced that it will implement various network improvements in the “coming period” and will immediately initiate the expansion of 5G. KPN says it has already prepared the network for the new 5G frequencies and has already installed it in the busiest places in the country. A spokesperson says that they will be activated quickly and that coverage in the country will be gradually expanded. VodafoneZiggo also expects to start within a few weeks.

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