back to article Go, go, Gadgets Boy! 'Influencer' testing 5G for Vodafone finds it to be slower than 4G

Big companies love to have social media "influencers" touting their wares – time-rich millennials who have turned product placement into a moderately lucrative lifestyle, often thanks to an agency. So when Vodafone invited "Gadgets Boy" (no – us neither) to Manchester to test its 5G connectivity, surely great things could be …

  1. Bloodbeastterror

    If it wasn't tested on a 5G phone (are there any?) then what's the point?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      If it wasn't tested on a 5G phone (are there any?) then what's the point?

      PR, marketing, hype, being seen to be using the term "5G" even though (as the article points out) there's no concrete definition as to what it actually is.....all the usual BS

      1. 's water music

        using the term "5G" even though (as the article points out) there's no concrete definition as to what it actually is

        What it is, is It's one faster isn't it?

        1. Aladdin Sane

          But why don't they just make 4G even faster?

          1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            But why don't they just make 4G even faster?

            <SpinalTap>But this one goes up to 5</SpinalTap>

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "<SpinalTap>But this one goes up to 5</SpinalTap>"

              which is why it appears 4G+ is getting branded as 5G- (with the incovenient "-" probably downplayed or in a smaller font) ... seem to think I read that Apple may be taking this route this to "match" Samsung having 5G

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                .5G Now available in Canada thanks to our 2 monopoly cell phone carriers

              2. ThomH

                Are you sure you didn't read that AT&T has extended its mislabelling of connections as '5G' from Android phones to iPhones?

                Absolutely nobody has claimed that Apple intends to deceive. Indeed, anywhere reputable has reported the opposite.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They are making 4G faster

            LTE started out at 150 Mbps, now it is over 2 Gbps. That fast enough for you?

            5G gets exactly the same bits per Hz of bandwidth as LTE, the main reason it will (eventually) achieve those headline grabbing max theoretical speeds is by exploiting wide swathes of virgin spectrum. Mostly millimeter wave spectrum, which comes with some problems of its own. Namely that it will require a LOT of power to make something actually use those wide swathes of spectrum (your phone will run hot and need frequent charging) and doesn't penetrate obstacles like a leaf very well, let alone walls.

            Qualcomm's recently announced 5G chip supports something carriers have been demanding - the ability to run both LTE and 5G on the same spectrum. That way those who don't have any low band spectrum free to dedicate to 5G will be able to have people actually be able to use it when they are inside their house. Not that it will be any faster than LTE, but the types of early adopters who will run out and buy a new phone just because it advertises 5G will be so excited to see that '5G' icon pop up they won't bother to measure that there is no improvement in speed.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: They are making 4G faster

              Sounds familiar.

              Back when we were being sold 4G the arguement was that it allowed X mb/s on each channel and you could have 256 channels, so a phone could be built that could do 256X mb/s ( if you didn't mind a phone the size of a brick with 30second battery life ) turned into 4G = 256X mb/s

            2. anto418

              Re: They are making 4G faster

              Let's be honest here, so few people reach even half of your max bandwith, and those who do have no interest in filling their entire available phone memory in seconds...

              Meanwhile I don't even have reliable cell data at work, in a business park in a region that's densely populated by european standards. Half the time I get this H+ sign with bandwith that looks more like an 2G network..

      2. XSV1

        re: PR, marketing, hype,

        PR, marketing, hype

        Absolutely... marketing shite... the latest buzz word for the unwashed masses.

    2. JetSetJim

      The phone was connected to a wfi router, presumably one connected to some magic 5G dongle compatible with the deployed 5G radios in VF's network. It's not clear whether this was open-access for VF punters, or reserved for GamerBoy in this instance.

      The phone looks reasonably modern, so I would hope that 802.11ac was used, or, at the very least 802.11n, in which case the connection limit would be 1.3Gbps for ac, or 450Mbps for n (and I'd hope that the router wasn't busy at the time of the test), so the over-the-air wifi wouldn't be the bottleneck.

      Saying that, initial LTE speeds were not what they currently are - carrier aggregation, MIMO and other features have injected speed boosts into the network. Also, how much bandwidth was being used for the 5G radio, too, as this isn't documented in the article - not sure spectrum is yet deployed to it's fullest extent, so it's entirely possible that different fruit are being compared in all these comments as 4G carriers are typically 20MHz per carrier nowadays, and multiple carriers are used to achieve their headline speeds.

      Poorly thought out PR stunt on VF's part, though, not expecting the obvious comparisons to different fruit

    3. tmTM

      Re: what's the point?

      Does anyone actually need 5G to begin with??

      Is 300Mbps really insufficient to run your pocket device?

      1. iancom

        Re: what's the point?

        Probably nobody needs 5G right now. I agree it's really difficult to see any need for this when 4G is already routinely getting better speeds than most home broadband connections.

        That doesn't mean that there won't be a need for it at some point in the future, though, and if development stopped on wireless data tech, it could end up becoming a bottleneck at some point.

        15 years ago when we were all marvelling at our shiny new feature phones with web/music/photo capabilities we realised that our 2G connections just weren't good enough to drive them any more. Fortunately, several years earlier despite there being no immediate need for faster-than-2g data, 3g was being developed and was deployed to suddenly make our feature phones do their amazing stuff.

        3g was so fast, there couldn't possibly be a need for 10Mbps on a phone. Certainly not 100Mbps, that would be crazy -- but then came the iPhone, Android, tablets. Fortunately, 4g had been developed despite the need for it seeming inconceivable just a few years earlier.

        I've no idea what devices might spring up that make 1Gbps+ necessary. I'm pretty sure they will spring up, nonetheless. It might be driverless transport that needs a huge continuous pipe of data. Weather data collection stations? Perhaps Pronhub will drive an adoption of ultra-super-duper-horrifically-detailed-HD running at 800Mbps? Maybe it's just more about aggregate bandwidth available in an area rather than provision of bandwidth to individual devices?

        We don't always envision well how tech will be used in the future. Usually, the use-cases evolve from the capability of the underlying tech, not the other way round.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "If it wasn't tested on a 5G phone then what's the point?"

      Dr. Heisenberg... Dr. Heisenberg... Calling Dr. Heisenberg...

      (advice to the testers: next time you measure something, make sure it doesn't significantly alter the results)

  2. Alister

    Standing bravely on the precipice of the 5G revolution, with the fierce wind of disruption blowing through his hair,



  3. Lee D Silver badge

    "*This was not conducted on a 5G phone; the device-to-router connection was over Wi-Fi, with the router being attached to a test 5G network."

    That's just cheating, then.

    Any fool could connect to a router with huge MIMO antennae and get better signal than anything you could carry in your pocket.

    Not only is it *slower* than 4G, they have to cheat to even *approach* 4G.

    Now, I'll defend them on one point. 4G or 5G - it's competing against an airport full of 2G/3G/4G phones, all of which are sharing the airwaves (because 5G-only frequencies aren't properly licensed yet? AFAIK it's still using the same frequencies as are currently licensed to 4G carriers and the "millimeter wave" frequencies are still very, very, very new and not yet set in stone). The same as I tell people with Wifi - it doesn't matter what you have, if the area is noisy you're automatically sharing it with 20-30 other devices, up to thousands of devices in places like airports. Not just the backhaul, but the airwaves themselves.

    All it demonstrates is that if they invested more in utilising 4G to its proper extent, we'd all be shocked at the speeds. 5G won't be a "thing" for another 5-10 years, and by then you'd hope that G, 2G, 3G at minimum are dead and no longer sharing the airwaves.

    Personally, if they put a poll on their website that said would you rather have 5G in a handful of places and nothing in other places, or 4G everywhere but utilised to its full extent (e.g. the gigabit range) then I know which one I'd rather have.

    1. Jeffrey Nonken

      So, which 5G-capable phone should they have used, then?

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Any of the hundreds of models currently in development, or any of the dozens of chipsets and prototype boards currently available, coupled with the kind of antenna that a normal phone would use, rather than a big router base station.

  4. Tom7

    Looking at the graph of download speed, it's pretty hard to argue that it'd reached its peak.

    1. Mage
      Black Helicopters

      Re: hard to argue that it'd reached its peak.

      Indeed we will only reach peak 5G hype when most new phones support it and there is real coverage.

      Existing mobile coverage certainly is never optimised for more speed by increasing capacity. Adding more masts, having smaller cells, raises the real average speed on ANY mobile system. It's down to meeting licence conditions (weak in USA, Ireland & UK for fast coverage) and ROI for CapEx and operating costs. Why have more masts that won't bring in more customers and revenue from them?

  5. Mage

    5G vs 4G

    It's more about infrastructure and to a lesser extent being able to bond channels on different bands.

    Higher speed needs more power and bandwidth. So Line Of Sight bands and short range for stadiums etc, not existing mobile bands at all. The 4G would work just as well on those bands. The only major flaws with 3G is that it uses CDMA, so almost half the capacity is wasted if the maximum number of connections are used and that the cell size changes with the number of users. It can use more than 5MHz (more speed) by channel "bonding". Even GSM has a very efficient high speed mode and can use many of the 0.2MHz channels, except that's not deployed. 3G is based on the inferior USA 2G CDMA-One, ironically GSM EDGE and ERMES is superior efficiency and reliability to 3G, but the 0.2MHz channel size vs 5MHz 3G means it's slower. The high speed of 4G needs 10, 20MHz or multiple 20MHz channels.


    Unless you want to waste your money by watching YouTube while at sports or concert you don't need a 5G phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 5G vs 4G

      I have a 500Mbps contract with Vodafone, I get around 360bps at work and 5Mbps at home...

      1. FlossyThePig

        Re: 5G vs 4G

        Just curious what contract you are on as I cannot find any Vodafone mobile contract that specifies speed.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: 5G vs 4G

          Vodafone Red M (11GB data / LTE 500/100)

          Maximum download speed 500mbps, maximum upload speed 100mbps.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: 5G vs 4G

      I'd take any tech that means that the local shops using iZettle can still take payments when the London Stadium is full of whatever football fans are in there that day, instead of 5 minutes of the bearded ones turning it on and off before finally accepting the notes I'm waving in front of them.

      1. Mage

        Re: local shops

        They ought to have real broadband.

        No mobile system is real broadband, no matter how fast it can go. No assurance of connection, all mobile data is just a sort of fast dialup. Pretty bad for peer to peer and running inward connections. I'd rather have a real 8Mbps always on, no ISP NAT, guaranteed connection than a flaky 400Mbps.

        Clue in name. Mobile is for mobile use. Using it instead of fixed broadband or wifi to fixed broadband makes it slower and less available for people actually "mobile".

        I heard a comment about Apple Pay, Google Android NFC etc the other day. Put your contactless debit card or credit card inside your phone bumper and then you can look like a hipster.

        1. Tom 38

          Re: local shops

          Hah! I agree in principle, but this "store" was actually a bar operating out of a canal boat selling home made ginger beer with shots of gin. Not much scope for fixed broadband when you don't have a fixed mooring.

          1. upsidedowncreature

            Re: local shops

            Is this peak hipster? Were there any fixie bikes around?

            1. Groaning Ninny

              Re: local shops

              What do think was running the generator?

            2. Tom 38

              Re: local shops

              Hackney Wick is about as peak hipster as you can get. There are art collectives operating out of disused warehouses, bookshops on canal boats, microbreweries, food trucks, street art, artisanal pizzas and more beards and piercings than you can count. Still, £4 for a large gin and ginger beer isn't bad.

              The generator was running on petrol, pretty sure from the racket.

              PS if you like the street art stuff, hurry up. When I moved to Stratford in 2014, I'd guess 90% of Hackney Wick was disused warehouses covered with street art, nowadays its about 20%; the rest has already been converted to obscenely expensive executive flats.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: local shops

          Clue in name. Mobile is for mobile use.

          Get with the programme, grandad!

          There's less and less point in having an Openreach connection, and a slowly rising proportion of the population (about 1 in 8) have concluded all they need is a mobile. Rather than complaining how you think mobile should be used, perhaps paying customers might decide for themselves, and the MNO's can get off their arses and provide the capacity?

  6. bytejunkie

    some great demos of knowledge above this comment, but you're all missed the real problem. Article states Gadget boy was invited to Leeds, yet he tested at Manchester Airport.

    No wonder it sucked.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Article states Gadget boy was invited to Leeds, yet he tested at Manchester Airport.

      Landed at Manchester Airport but couldn't get enough bandwidth to load Google Maps so that he could find his way to Leeds?

    2. BebopWeBop

      A number of decent comments pointing out the flaws in the 'methodology' from device to location. So I get 3.5Mb/s from 4G in my Office in the Scottish Borders (and 10 from the land line). I get almost 1 magnitude better in Barcelona on the mobile and two orders of magnitude on the landline. The same devices plugged in at both sites. I don't blame the connection equipment, just the piss poor infrastructure in Britain and its uneven coverage.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Scottish Borders vs Barcelona. You're not exactly comparing like for like there. Try the Scottish Borders vs lets say Aribe near the border with France. I think you'd find the values would be a lot closer.

  7. Ken 16 Silver badge

    5G are the burger chain?

    3g usually gives me 10-15 MB/s and often more reliably than 4G which bursts fast then times out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 5G are the burger chain?

      That sounds “familiarly Three” :-(

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are currently 5G masts going up in my area and I can't receive phone calls on Vodafone. They have refunded most of my contract charge for this month (not all as I can still make calls abd use data). There could be a lot of distruption coming our way.

  9. Technolojunkie

    The Register is often funny, it must have been a slow news day. Trying so hard that you have to put somebody's professional/business name in quotes to make a joke is hacky. I'd like to think you could do better, but considering your site gets fewer views than most influencers get comments and likes per day, you're losing relevance anyway. Good luck with that.

    1. jonathan keith

      So how many DevOps Influencers are out there in Social Medialand?I can't be bothered to even try finding out for myself but you sound like the sort of person in the know.

    2. Groaning Ninny


      TheRegister is relevant to me because it brings me (mostly) tech news in text format.

      I still don't know what an influencer is supposed to be. This spell checker doesn't even this that's a word...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "somebody's professional/business name in quotes"

      Professional what? You drank the cool aid.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I pay over $50/month for 30Mbps for my cable internet connection.

    It would cost me close to $80/month for the 30Mbps if I were to remove the phone from the "bundle savings" package.

    (phone is never plugged in to avoid the endless stream of scam calls)

  11. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    GiffGaff on 4G Manchester centre

    Lucky to get 1Mbps. Or no data connection at all.

    Even on Speedtest, which presumably has special prioritised routes.

  12. jason 7

    My no.1 niggle with mobile tech?

    Whenever you sit at home, in the pub or whatever and you casually playing around, using the features like web and works every damn time instantly.

    Then when you are actually mobile and need some info or a service right there and never fucking works!

  13. fedoraman

    Not using Gigabit ethernet, clearly

    Hmmm, sounds like someone used a very old router, and it saturated at 100Mbit/sec.

    No, nobody would be that careless, shurely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not using Gigabit ethernet, clearly

      > Hmmm, sounds like someone used a very old router, and it saturated at 100Mbit/sec.

      > No, nobody would be that careless, shurely?

      One straight out of the BOFH's playbook. Well done, whoever it was!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, thank you.

    1 - more speed = more power needs. Until this it-must-be-thinner designer fad stops in favour of having a battery that actually survives a loo break, I keep my device on 3G and enjoy a whole day between charges. Well, my phone does.

    2 - more speed = more inefficiency. I'm old school, so I don't send email with 10MB attachments, I gravely insult marketing people who dare sending me a 20MB powerpoint by email and I do not like sending people directly a picture taken with my super-uber-hi-res smartphone because that just goes against the grain. As an aside, I lost count of the websites that put a mega hi-res pic up scaled down to 640 by 480, and I think whoever does that should be put back on 300baud rubber cup modem access to the Net until they've learned their lesson, or take up knitting instead.

    3 - more speed = more contention. Again, old school concerns here - that we widen the pipe at the front doesn't automagically translate in a fatter pipe out of the back end. %g doesn't matter much if you have to pass through an IP-to-smoke-signals pipe at the back end to get anywhere. Even if it falls back on pigeons.

    I like stuff that actually works, is well engineered and is based on properly agreed open standards, without the associated BS. Because I have seen enough BS already, and I must admit my tolerance for it diminishes with the years - limited as it was to start with..

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    ... and by "influencer,"

    I mean "douchebag."

  16. silks


    Today Donald Trump says / Tweeted he wants 5G or even 6G! Probably not from a Chinese vendor I suspect.

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: 6G!

      I assumed you were joking but had to check just in case.

      Oh heavens.

      Then I started reading more of his twittage and had to make sure it wasn't a parody account.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 6G!

      If you're going to call for fantasy, why not go all the way to 9G so you can be decades ahead of the rest of the world? MAGA!

  17. The Pi Man


    Any chance of finishing the 4G rollout before starting on this pointless nonsense?

    1. jonathan keith

      Re: 4G?

      You'll never become a Titan Of Industry with an attitude like that.

  18. FXi

    5G is just an excuse to have to build out more infrastructure

    Bonded LTE could have been done from the same towers and only require building out the interconnects with more bandwidth. That bandwidth still isn't complete to rural areas, and instead of finishing that process, we now want to build out all new cells (in 10x the quantity), new cell locations (towers/mounts/whatnot), rebuild practically the entire thing with tons more connection points, all the interconnects that go with that, the airwave noise and conflicts (remember there is plenty of background RF going on in the world, smaller range means a higher impact from this noise), and once again have a reason on the financials to again be building and again charging more money for all that building.

    This whole process feels inherently like something that is being done to hide the concept that like electricity, cellular access is becoming utility, not growth, and that terrifies the giants of the industry. All this rebuilding, however, is an excellent excuse for local towns to build and own their own micro cell network and get infrastructure where they want it, and just charge the big telco's for access.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 5G is just an excuse to have to build out more infrastructure

      The additional cell locations will only be in built up areas, 5G will exclusively use lower bands in rural areas that cover the same area. No one will be adding a bunch of towers so they can cover farmland with millimeter wave 5G capable of 10 Gbps.

      In many areas LTE and 5G will share the same spectrum (which is part of the standard) so the upgrade will be fairly simple - just replace the backend electronics and update the software. The antenna will be unchanged, though they might add a few more to take advantage of the 5G standard's better spacial locality abilities.

  19. EnviableOne

    sounds like he needs a better phone

    Like one with 2x2 antenas, Samsung has had MIMO 2x2 antennas since the Galaxy S5.

    and with a decent router, i regularly see speeds in excess of 800Mbps.

    but seriously if Vf 4G can apparently crank up over 300Mbps if Openreach dont abandon and go full fibre, they are going to lose customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sounds like he needs a better phone

      In one of the comment threads he claimed his phone had 8x8 in the 60GHz band. Which did little to aid his credibility as an authority on technology.

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