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Does 5G use more data than 4G?

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Last updated: 03 March 2022

The UK’s mobile operators are busy rolling out the fifth-generation mobile network. If you’re in an area with 5G coverage and have a compatible smartphone, you can access speeds of over 100Mbps - around ten times that provided by 4G. 

But if you have a limited data allowance, you might be concerned 5G will eat it up too quickly. But does 5G actually use more data than previous generations of mobile internet?

Fortunately. 5G doesn’t inherently use more data than 4G. It’s simply a faster, more advanced network delivering the same content.

But because 5G is so much quicker, you might find you’re using it more and for data-intensive activities like streaming, video calling, and online gaming. Additionally, you might be able to stream video and audio at higher qualities which use more data. Both mean you may naturally consume more data on 5G.

Research backs this up too: a 2020 study by independent telecoms research firm Opensignal found that smartphone users on 5G consume 1.7 to 2.7 times more mobile data than smartphone users on 4G. 

So, when you buy a 5G-enabled smartphone, or the network pops up in your neighbourhood, you may want to re-evaluate your data plan. If you intend to take advantage of 5G to stream Netflix on the go, you might want to push up your monthly allowance or even opt for an unlimited plan.

But if you merely intend to do the same things on your smartphone that you did before - browse the web, check your email - just at a faster speed, your current allowance should be sufficient.


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Lauren Smith

Author: Lauren Smith

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