There are four significant types of 5G ranging from so-called standard 5G to industrial 5G. We've outlined the key categories in the table below. Read more about these on our 5G technology page.
The speeds achieved on each flavour vary based on the technology and how the data and signals are being used. The deployment of each also varies between networks and, mmWave networks - sometimes referred to as 5G Plus - aren't yet available in most parts of the UK and Europe, for example.
|5G Minus or 5GE||Also known by many other names including 4G+, 5GE, 4G LTE Plus, 4G LTE Advanced, 4G LTE-A and even 4.5G, refers to data speeds that are faster than those offered by Gigabit LTE but don’t yet technically reach the minimum requirements to be officially classified as 5G.|
|Standard 5G||This is often referred to as “sub-6GHz” 5G or “everyday 5G” and, as the name suggests, will be the standard, everyday networks consumers will typically use on a daily basis.|
|5G Plus||Also known as Total 5G or 5G+, this describes the speeds quoted by manufacturers when talking about 5G. These are the maximum achievable in real-world scenarios, rather than in lab tests.|
|Industrial 5G||This refers to the speeds expected to be seen in factories and manufacturing spaces that will power IoT devices by combining standards to boost the maximum.|
Now that you have a basic idea of what the different flavours of 5G look like, it's time to look at the best ways to test your connection, and ensure you're getting the kind of speeds your mobile network operator has advertized.
There are a number of 5G speed tests out there, that can be used to check exactly what kind of speeds you’re getting, as well as presenting other information, such as how strong your signal might be.
In this post, we’ve selected a range of speed tests that show the most basic of information, up to the more complex settings and frequencies.
Available online, as well as via apps for Android, iOS, Apple TV, Google Chrome, macOS and Windows, Ookla’s Speedtest is an easy way to check your web speeds.
It shows your average download and upload speeds as well as your ping and jitter readings, the number of connections, the server name and location and network details.
These results can be stored, or shared. And the site also boasts a 5G Map, which you can find here.
OpenSignal is an independent analytics firm that specialises in measuring and monitoring mobile network speeds and experience and offers two apps.
Its original OpenSignal app helps you “accurately measure the everyday experience you receive on your mobile network”. Instead of giving estimates, predictions or the maximum speeds possible over any given connection, the OpenSignal results are closer to what speeds you’ll likely experience when using your phone normally. The app additionally helps you find the strongest signal in your area, by following an onscreen arrow, shows coverage maps, for all UK networks, and reveals your recent data usage.
Alternatively, its Meteor app breaks down what these speed readings mean in real-world scenarios, and while using real-world apps. The latter is particularly useful for telling you whether your connection is strong enough to stream an online video, or use a navigation app. Elsewhere, it helps you monitor where your fastest connections have been on a map.
Despite being called a broadband speed checker, 5G Comms’ speed test powered by NetMeter.uk can be used to test web speeds on data plans, as well as over wired and wireless Wi-Fi connections. The results reveal the connection’s median ping, download speeds and upload speeds.
The 5G Comms version of the test is more user-friendly than NetMeter’s original, showing only the most relevant information.
And if you want to learn more about your minimum and maximum ping times as well as how quickly your specific speeds could download an MP3, CD or DVD, you can use NetMeter.uk’s test.
Available online and as an Android and iOS app, SpeedSmart offers the same ping, download and upload speed readings as others in this list but additionally features an ISP map that reveals the readings of both Wi-Fi and mobile data speeds across the globe.
You can filter by connection type and view your test history.
Built to reveal details about LTE connections, this speed test is the most complicated of the lot. It’s a theoretical throughput calculator that gives you highly specific readings based on your EARFCN, or band number. This stands for E-UTRA Absolute Radio Frequency Channel Number and is the unique frequency band being used by your particular connection, as assigned to your device by the network operator.
To discover your EARFCN on iOS, run a field test by typing *3001#12345#* into your phone’s keypad and pressing dial.
On Android, you can download apps to reveal your field test information depending on your handset, or the Android version you are running. Certain handsets will also enter field test mode using a similar code to the one used by iPhone. On a Samsung, for example, you can use *#0011# to see this information. The process is more complicated on Android due to the vast number of variables with Android devices. You can go to Settings | About Phone to see your signal strength.
Once you know your EARFCN, enter it in the Pedroc tool and it will automatically select the band and reveal the theoretical speeds achievable on that frequency network.
Speed test glossary
|Ping||This refers to the reaction time of your connection and is often referred to as latency. Put simply, it describes how long it takes for you to get a response from the network after sending out a request. Some apps will also show a “jitter” value, which is how much the ping varied during the test. The higher the numbers, the higher the reaction times and variations, and this can be critical for playing games, for example. Ping and jitter are both measured in milliseconds (ms).|
|Download speed||Download speed describes how fast you can “pull” data from the server to your device and is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to download the data for offline use on your device. Whenever you load an image on a website or open a link, as well as when you’re streaming films, your device is downloading packets of data from a central server to the relevant browser or app.|
|Upload speed||Upload speed refers to the speed at which you can send data to others. During a video call, for instance, you’re “downloading” the data from the caller’s video – meaning you can see them – but you’re also sending, or uploading your own video images, so they can see you. Upload speed is also measured in megabits per second (Mbps).|