Major news organizations can’t stop talking about 5G and mobile data storage. From how they talk about it, it seems as though mobile data storage and 5G connectivity will play a major role in the cellular industry going forward.
But what even is mobile data storage, how does it work, and what’s the difference between 5G and 4G? Let’s answer these questions and more today!
What Is Mobile Data?
Mobile data, in a nutshell, is any Internet content delivered to mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, over wireless cellular connections. Internet content can be emails, video content, website pages, and anything else you surf on the web. Remember, whenever you access a webpage, your device downloads a copy of that page so you can view it.
Mobile data can be delivered either directly to a mobile device or to a mobile device via a Wi-Fi router (which happens whenever you connect your phone to a Wi-Fi network).
Mobile data is delivered using mobile data plans, which you can keep track of on your phone’s data center or data analytics page in the settings. These plans dictate how much mobile data can be sent to a given device over a month or what "overcharge" rates might be.
What Is 5G?
"5G" stands for the fifth-generation cellular network. Without getting too technical, the cellular industry upgrades its wireless infrastructure every ten years or so. For example, the 2010s had most phones run on 4G networks.
However, throughout the 2020s, the goal is to upgrade everyone to 5G networks because 5G cellular infrastructure results in better mobile data transmission speed. That’s because the 5G network uses more efficient cellular towers and other infrastructure.
For example, 5G networks have the potential to offer download and transmission speeds for mobile data 100 times faster than 4G networks. There’s a top-tier theoretical speed of 20 GB per second, with real-world speeds ranging from 50 MB per second to 3 GB per second.
With the advent of cloud storage, which offers instant retention of data and automation of physical data storage solutions, 5G speeds have become even more crucial for data protection and disaster recovery. Gone are the days when you had to wait hours to upload pictures to a hybrid cloud, and almost forgotten are the flash drives and hard disk drives of yore.
With 5G networks, we’ve optimized processing power and speed at a lower cost than ever before, which is the driving force behind the trends toward 5G scalability.
What Is 4G?
The 4G network is the prior decade’s primary cellular infrastructure generation. It was the fourth generation of wireless towers and technology used by billions of people worldwide.
It’s significantly slower than modern 5G technology and infrastructure. For example, real-world 4G performance usually caps out at about 35 MB per second, with a potential top speed of 100 Mb per second.
4G infrastructure laid the foundation for cloud services and modern storage technologies. The same way that computers were massive and slow before we developed the microchip technology that dominates the industry today, 4G network provided the basis for the brilliant storage infrastructure we have today.
Overall, the upgrade from 4G to 5G technology should result in faster download and surfing speeds for everyone using mobile devices.
What Is LTE?
LTE is an acronym that stands for "long-term evolution." It's frequently used alongside 4G technology in discussions.
LTE technology was introduced in 2008 and allowed mobile phone users to access cellular data with high efficiency and download times. Think of LTE as a method the cellular industry used to achieve or maintain 4G speeds across the board, even for those out of range of standard 4G towers.
LTE is a type of technology, not a type of network. It will continue to remain essential as 5G networks rollout. In theory, LTE technology, like cellular towers or software programs, should exist for a decade until the full 5G infrastructure plan is completed.
In most cases, LTE technology will give mobile device users fallback connectivity if they have limited 5G coverage. This should allow them to maintain high download speeds even if they are in rural areas, for example.
Which Apps on Your Phone Use Mobile Data?
Practically any app on your phone that requires an Internet connection or sends and receives data to another party uses mobile data. Let’s take a look at some specific examples.
Does Texting Use Data?
Texting uses mobile data, though it may be included with your overall phone plan. Every text you send, whether on your phone’s standard texting app or a third-party app, uses cellular data.
That said, most text messages barely use up any data at all. The data burden becomes heavy if you include media with your text messages.
Does Web Browsing Use Data?
Yes. Web browsing uses data to download pages, media, files, and anything else you may bring to your phone. Some webpages use more data than others; generally, graphic-heavy or video-focused webpages require more data than static pages or pages with more text than images.
Do Games Use Data?
The vast majority of mobile device games also use data. That’s because most games send observational data back to their creators for analysis. Lots of mobile games also include advertisements to show to their players, which they receive from the Internet.
Because so many apps use data quickly, it’s important to consider your data storage needs and data caps when selecting a new device or phone plan.
How Much Does Unlimited Data Cost?
Unlimited data access plans are attractive to many Americans, and for a good reason. They allow you to browse the web, play games, and do other activities without any theoretical limitations.
However, unlimited data services can cost quite a pretty penny. For example, Sprint’s Unlimited Basic plan costs $60 per month. T-Mobile’s Essentials plan also costs $60 a month, whereas AT&T’s Unlimited & More Premium plan costs a whopping $80 a month.
Remember that unlimited data plans don't always mean "truly unlimited." They frequently limit you to the types or qualities of videos you can stream while staying under the unlimited data plan without incurring extra charges. Even when you do find a genuinely unlimited plan, there will almost always be a limit to the high-performance workloads that your device can handle.
Should You Choose a Low-Data Plan?
It’s up to you! Generally, low data plans are best if you don’t regularly watch Netflix or stream media to your mobile device. Low data plans are fine if you just text occasionally and browse the Internet from time to time.
But suppose you want to truly unlock the potential of your mobile device and benefit from easy downloads and convenient web access. In that case, unlimited data management plans are usually well worth their costs.
Do You Need 5G?
You don’t need 5G yet, but you’ll be handicapping your device’s responsiveness and download speeds if you don’t have one that can upgrade to 5G infrastructure and software.
With that in mind, it might be a good idea to pick up a mobile phone designed for 5G future connectivity. 5G download speeds will be advantageous for those who like to watch Netflix or stream shows on their phones. It may not be as necessary for those who occasionally surf the web or send texts to friends.
The Bottom Line
All in all, mobile data plays a big role in whether one phone or cellular plan is right for your needs. Consider how much mobile data you use right now, then try to predict how much you may use in the future before signing up for a new plan.
Alternatively, make things easier on yourself and look up Navi’s plan navigator page. With this resource, you can quickly and easily compare different phone plans and find the right one for your wallet and your data storage system needs.
What is 4G LTE and why it matters | About Verizon
What is 5G | Everything You Need to Know About 5G | 5G FAQ | Qualcomm
4G vs. 5G: The key differences between the cellular network generations | Business Insider