Do I need a contract with 5G now?

Smartphone manufacturers and network providers are promoting 5G with super-fast internet speeds. But how far is the 5G network in Germany? And is a corresponding contract worthwhile now?

Wow, that was quick. 35 apps updated via mobile data in less than a minute. That works – with 5G. The new radio technology promises up to 1 gigabit per second and extremely fast response times.

5G even more marketing than reality

More and more antennas are activated every week and the mobile phone providers are beating the drum. Cheaper contracts with 5G cost between 20 and 40 euros. Pure LTE tariffs – also quite fast – are sometimes significantly cheaper. So the question is: Is it worth switching to 5G?

“At the moment I still refer to 5G as marketing,” says Thorsten Neuhetzki. The mobile communications expert at the technology magazine “inside digital” sees no great benefit for private 5G tariffs in the next one to two years because the network expansion is only just beginning.

5G is not just 5G

So far there are only a few real 5G antennas, says Neuhetzki. A large part of what the mobile network providers currently call 5G runs via 4G and 3G antennas and the infrastructure behind them. The connection is still fast, just a long way from what 5G can ultimately achieve. In addition, not every smartphone sold as 5G-capable can handle the current technology consisting of LTE anchor cells and 5G turbo, says Neuhetzki.

His verdict: “So far, I see little added value for normal private customers from 5G.” At the moment, most users are better served by a well-developed LTE network. However, a contract with 5G cannot do any harm. “The big advantage is: So far, you are quite alone in the 5G network.” And the fewer users, the faster the individual surfs.

People in large cities in particular find good reasons for a 5G contract. Here the network is already well developed in some cases, and you benefit from fast downloads and response times. “At Vodafone, you sometimes get decent 5G in poorly developed rural areas,” Neuhetzki noted.

Also interesting: the differences between LTE, 4G and 5G

Maps show 5G coverage

The expansion cards of the three network providers Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica (O2) show how good the 5G connection is on site. But it’s worth taking a look at the details here. You can see whether there is 5G locally by clicking on your own address on the Telekom network expansion map. Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg theoretically gets up to 1 gigabit per second (Mbit / s) via 5G, in practice it is more like 300 Mbit / s. In the NRW-Mittelstadt Erkrath there is “only” 75 Mbit / s via 5G in some places. That is significantly slower than a well-developed LTE network. If you even get 5G – the map of Germany still has quite a few gaps.

It looks best at Telekom. Several cities, more densely populated areas and larger traffic routes are shown as being supplied. But the further you zoom into the map, the more white spots appear. It is similar with the competitor Vodafone: network coverage in cities and many white spots in the area.

Telefónica is not quite ready yet. Here on the website, the goal is stated to supply “large parts of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt” with 5G by the end of 2021. 1 & 1 Drillisch, the fourth provider with 5G licenses, will start building its own network. Until then, Telefónica’s cellular infrastructure will be used. And later on, customers of 1 & 1 Drillisch will also switch to the Telefonica network at unsupervised locations.

The network is growing

If you ask the Federal Network Agency ( BNetzA ) about the expansion status, you will hear that the German 5G network is on the right track. At least when measured against the expansion speed of previous standards such as UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G), 5G is already significantly faster.

At the same time, the expansion of the LTE network is continuing. It is up to them which technology the network providers use to expand and meet the BNetzA requirements. According to the BNetzA, by the end of 2022 they must, for example, supply the main traffic routes in Germany and 98 percent of households with a bandwidth of 100 megabits per second (100 Mbit / s).

By the end of 2024, all other federal highways are to be supplied with at least 100 Mbit / s as well as all state and state highways, the seaports and the most important waterways and all other railways with at least 50 Mbit / s. This can be done with LTE or with 5G technology.

In perspective, one can say: 5G is worthwhile in expanded areas – and the expanded areas are growing. “It doesn’t hurt,” says Thorsten Neuhetzki to those willing to switch to 5G. The worst that could happen is that in some places you could travel more slowly in the 5G network than in the LTE network. “But don’t buy a 5G cell phone just to have a 5G cell phone.” The same goes for tariffs. “To be honest: LTE does it too.”

Also interesting: Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T – the 5G smartphone at a low price in the check

What does a contract with 5G cost?

5G tariffs at Telekom

Almost all smartphone tariffs for the 5G network are activated at Telekom. “5G, where available,” they say. The prices start at 39.95 euros per month for 6 gigabytes of data volume (excluding new customer, age or other discounts).

5G tariffs at Vodafone

“With your tariff you will in future use the new 5G network technology domestically,” says Vodafone. Here the prices start from 29.99 euros per month for 4 gigabytes of data volume (without new customer, age or other discounts).

5G tariffs at Telefónica

5G is available from 39.99 euros per month, where available, but with a limited maximum speed of 10 megabits per second (Mbit / s). For 44.99 euros there are 120 gigabytes with a maximum of 300 Mbit / s, for 49.99 euros there is unlimited data volume with 300 Mbit / s (without new customer, age or other discounts).

5G tariffs at 1 & 1 Drillisch

With its brand 1 & 1, 1 & 1 Drillisch currently has two tariffs on offer. For 40 gigabytes of 5G (in the Telefónica network) you pay 19.99 euros in the first six months, then EUR 34.99). 100 gigabytes per month cost 24.99 euros in the first six months, and 39.99 euros thereafter.

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