How Fast Is 5G?

Carriers are rolling out 5G wireless technology nationwide right now. There are only select cities with the wireless frequency available, and these are usually reasonably dense cities with plenty of people. So, if you live in a larger city, you’ll likely soon or are already experiencing the fast speeds that 5G has to offer. However, if you’re the rest of the country, estimates are saying that it’s going to be a couple of years before 5G is fully available nationwide.

You don’t want to wait that long to experience it for yourself, but there’s not much of an option. That’s why we can at least show you how fast the wireless frequency will be on paper. Let’s dive right in.

How fast is 5G?

There is always a difference between real-time 5G data speeds, and what the spec sheet calls for. The spec sheet is essential, because, for it to be classified as 5G technology, there are a set of standards set forth by governing authorities that have to be followed. The primary specifications that has to be adhered to are upload and download speeds.

5G peak download speed

5G has to support a minimum peak download speed. The standards set call for 2.5 GB/s (gigabytes per second). Many standards you see might call for 20 Gb per second, but this is actually in gigabits, not gigabytes. Dividing it into speeds that you’ll actually see and are already familiar with, the standard is 2.5 gigabytes per second.

5G peak upload speed

Actual upload requirements are half that of download requirements. Standards call for 1.25 gigabytes per second. And this is the same rule as above — upload speeds called for are actual 10 Gb per second, but those are in bits, not bytes. The 1.25 gigabytes per second are actual speeds that consumers are familiar with in the real world.

Latency requirements

Since 5G improves on latency quite a bit as well, governing authorities have set minimum latency requirements, too. There is a minimum requirement of 4ms, but in some device applications, it could drop to as low as 1ms.

What about real-world speeds?

As we all know, the speeds advertised on paper never translate to what we experience in the real world. When you start throwing in other factors — like sharing the network with other users — actual speeds are never as high as your peak speeds.

Cell towers generally support one million devices per one square kilometer, and then it has to split the network evenly between all of those devices. So unless you somehow manage to meet all of the perfect factors, those peak speeds are going to be hard to hit.

That said, Three UK is estimating that its users will experience real-world speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, which translates to 12.5 megabytes per second. Those numbers are going to vary quite a bit, and especially when you go from comparing the UK speeds to the US. Location, devices, and equipment all factor into these numbers.

T-Mobile, for example, is estimating way faster speeds at 450 megabits per second, which sits at 56 or so megabytes per second.

How fast is 5G compared to LTE?

What if we compare 5G speeds to current LTE speeds? Currently, LTE speeds top out at around 100 megabits per second, whereas — as discussed earlier — 5G is rated for up to 20 gigabits per second. That said, even on paper, 5G is much quicker. Those aren’t actual speeds that you are going to experience, but it does mean that there is a whole lot more potential when it comes to 5G technology.


As you can see, 5G is extremely quick, and most carriers are racing to be the first in the United States to offer the wireless frequency to consumers everywhere. It is fast, but that’s not the only significant improvement — 5G also has some significant improvements in ping and latency. It makes it all that easier to create wireless communication between devices.

It’s worth noting that, even though 5G is supposed to bring some rapid speeds to the table — as well as improved ping and latency — 4G LTE still has yet to see it’s full potential. Analysts estimate that it’ll be between 2024 and 2025 before we’ll see the maximum that 4G LTE can do, so even if you don’t plan on picking up a 5G capable smartphone, there are still great things to come with the current 4G LTE frequencies.

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