There’s a dark secret lurking behind all the promised benefits of the impending 5G networks slowly coming online around the world: All that extra speed and bandwidth is going to make it really hard to stay within your monthly data limits, as the BBC recently discovered with its first live segment streamed over 5G.
Today, EE, one of the UK’s cellular providers, fired up its 5G network in six cities across the country including Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, and Manchester. To help illustrate one of 5G’s biggest advantages over previous wireless networks—its ability to deliver broadband speeds without wires—the BBC had reporter Rory Cellan-Jones do a live report during its BBC Breakfast program that was streamed over EE’s 5G network.
You can watch the segment here, but needless to say, the quality of the image is excellent, with no compression artifacts, hiccups, or random freezes that happen quite often when live broadcasts are streamed over older 4G and 3G networks. But EE’s first 5G networks aren’t perfect. While testing one of the few 5G-capable smartphones currently available, Jones found that the connection speed went up and down depending on where he stood—a problem that should eventually be alleviated once 5G towers are more prevalent and able to provide thorough, reliable coverage.
However, the BBC Breakfast segment was actually delayed by 15 minutes when the cellular equipment (provided by Huawei) they were using to stream the broadcast suddenly stopped working. But it wasn’t a problem with the 5G network; the SIM card used for the live stream had simply reached its data cap, which is a problem that many users will inevitably experience once they start streaming 4K Netflix movies to their phones every morning on their commutes to work.
With carriers already introducing additional charges to allow existing smartphones to just use 5G networks, your cellphone bill is going to inevitably get quite expensive once you realize you need heaps more data every month.