When Vodafone and Telekom announced the start of their 5G networks in summer 2019, it sounded as if the future of mobile communications had begun.
Of course, in order to benefit from the new networks, you needed the right hardware, the right smartphone and a mobile phone contract that included 5G.
And yes, 5G was more like the needle in the mobile phone haystack at the time: For a practical test, I had to drive through half the city to find a 5G antenna.
But it was 5G!
Or is it not?
Vodafone formulated the answer to this question this Monday as follows: "We are revealing the biggest mobile phone secret in Germany and paving the way for real-time: 5G is on its own two feet for the first time in Germany." The statement is illustrated with the picture of a tricycle whose training wheels are unscrewed.
The small wheels are supposed to symbolize the LTE network, on which 5G was based, so to speak, and which is no longer needed as an aid.
This means that 5G becomes independent of the older LTE technology; we are now talking about »5G standalone« (5G SA).
Training wheels off, 5G can now also drive alone: This is how Vodafone presents it
5G cannot achieve higher data transmission rates, on the contrary.
For the time being, the speed of 5G standalone is limited to 700 megabits per second (Mbit / s), while in LTE-supported 5G networks up to 1 gigabit per second is possible.
Nevertheless, 5G is getting faster because the so-called latency, the time it takes for data to be sent through the network, is becoming significantly shorter.
End users benefit from this, for example with online games or augmented reality (AR).
However, this improvement is more important for industrial applications, such as the remote control of machines, which can now take place virtually in real time.
The other innovation is called "network slicing".
It makes it possible to cut the 5G network into several slices of different thicknesses like a loaf of bread and assign certain attributes to each of these slices.
Vodafone cites the 5G network in a football stadium as an example, which can be divided up so that a guaranteed data budget is kept free for the live transmission of TV images in real time, while another slice of the network is available for viewers.
One of the right smartphones: The Oppo Find X3 Pro in a laboratory test
For normal users, however, it is likely to be more important in everyday life that 5G standalone can potentially extend the battery life of smartphones by 20 percent, because they only have to log into a network and do not have to maintain parallel contact with 5G and LTE.
As with the first start of 5G, you will only be able to benefit from the new 5G version, which was initially armed on a thousand cellular antennas, if you have a smartphone that also supports this technology.
According to Vodafone, only the Oppo Find X3 Pro (you can find our test report here) is able to do this - and only after a software update.
More compatible devices are expected later this year.
Unlike Vodafone, Telekom has not yet announced a start date for 5G standalone.
The company is currently testing the technology in Garching near Munich and reported the first successful 5G standalone data connection in Germany at the beginning of March.
Telefonica O2 has only roughly announced the start of 5G standalone for 2021.
External links: three tips from other media
"Apple's CEO is making very different choices from Mark Zuckerberg" (English, 36 minutes)
Apple CEO Tim Cook rarely gives interviews, and certainly not as a podcast.
He has now made an exception for the US journalist Kara Swisher and her "Sway" podcast.
In the interview, he talks about the storming of the Capitol, the Parler chat app, social media, Apple's efforts in the area of automobility and how long he wants to keep his post.
"The Google i / o 2021 Puzzle", (English, many minutes of puzzle)
After a corona-related break in 2020, Google will hold its developer conference i / o again this year.
As a pure online event, of course.
The free registration has now been activated, but that shouldn't prevent you from trying your hand at the puzzle behind which the company initially hid information about the event.
»Guardian, Part 1« (Russian, 50 minutes)
Admittedly, this tip is only for hardcore Tolkien fans who prefer to understand Russian as well.
It is a long-lost film adaptation of JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" from the 1990s, which has now been rediscovered and is very different from the three-part series by Peter Jackson, which cost several hundred million dollars.
Enjoy the slowly approaching spring weather - and stay healthy!