In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the possibility of seeing the first commercial 5G network in Mexico by the end of the year, in fact, a few days ago the people of Altán Redes mentioned that they were already ready for the implementation of the 5G network, However, no operator in Mexico has offered an exact date for the arrival of the 5G network. What we do know is that the first 5G networks in Mexico (as in many other countries) will not be SA networks (autonomous), but will be NSA (not autonomous).

In Unocero we had already explained what the main differences were between the 5G NSA and SA networks, as well as the main advantages and disadvantages that each of them has, so we invite you to read the full article so that you are much more informed. However, what we are going to return to in this post is that 5G NSA networks are based on 4G infrastructure, hence it is easier and faster to implement them, although the idea is that in the coming years all 5G networks will only be SA, in fact, in some countries like China or South Korea 5G SA networks are the priority over NSAs.

Is the arrival of the 5G NSA network worth getting excited about?

All the new technologies are exciting, and you can assume that when the first 5G network is available in Mexico we will test it to tell you about our experience, however, many users may be thinking of making an investment in the face of the arrival of the 5G network to Mexico and other Latin American countries. But is this emotion really worth so much? The reality is that 5G NSA networks are not that different from 4.5G networks, or LTE-A Pro.

In the case of Mexico Telcel and Altán Redes They are the only operators with infrastructure to offer 4.5G to their customers, so if you are a Movistar, AT&T customer or one of the MVNOs that use these two networks then when you start testing a 5G NSA network you will notice a great improvement compared to users of 4.5G networks.

Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images

In the case of 4G networks, normally the maximum connection speed is up to 150 Mbps, a speed that we could consider optimal but that lags far behind the speed capacity of the 4.5G and 5G NSA networks. In fact, these 150 Mbps are theoretical and in optimal conditions, so they are hardly possible to achieve on a day-to-day basis. In the case of 4.5G networks such as Telcel and Red Compartida it is possible to reach up to 1 Gbps, but with small letters, that is, in optimal conditions, in fact, I who am a user of this network I have never reached more than 200 Mbps download, although theoretically it is possible to reach that Gigabit per second of speed.

The 5G NSA networks do not improve this figure much, because, although different operators mention that the speed of these networks is 1 Gbps, the theoretical data mention that they are capable of reaching up to 2 Gbps, but we reiterate that this is only possible under conditions optimal, not to say “in laboratory tests.”

If we consider that 5G SA networks could reach theoretical speeds of up to 20 Gbps, then we do speak of an abysmal and noticeable difference compared to 4.5G networks, but if we only take the 5G NSA as a reference, then this difference is really small.

Credit: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

If we go to another important figure such as latency, we can see that there are not great differences between the 4.5G and 5G NSA networks either, since the first one promises a 24 ms average latency, while the second promises only 15 ms, however, the networks 5G SA can achieve a latency of only 1 msHence, they are ideal for Smart Cities and IoT devices.

In fact, both 4.5G and 5G SA networks have Massive MIMO to improve connection stability even in areas with high conglomeration, so beyond improvements in network speed and latency, there is not much to differentiate between the 4.5G and 5G NSA.

The advantage of compatible equipment

The only and much superior advantage that the 4.5G network currently has over 5G is that there are many more devices compatible with this network, in addition to having greater coverage, because when the 5G NSA network is available we will have coverage probably limited to the main ones cities in the country, and the amount of equipment available will be limited to high-end and premium.

In fact, a short time ago we collected the 5G equipment that can already be purchased in Mexico, and the amount is much lower compared to the dozens of models that do support the 4.5G network in Mexico and the world, of which there are even from the mid-range to the premium range.