Much has been said about the 5G internet in Brazil, in recent months. Cell phones are launched with technology support, operators announce the fifth generation in their advertisements, the auction of frequencies suffers constant delays… With so much information, it’s easy to get lost in the subject.
To help understand the topic, THE PEOPLE tested the new connection, available as a “preview” of the 5G, in Fortaleza. We also prepared a questions about the subject. Check it out below:
Where is 5G in Fortaleza?
The tests done by THE PEOPLE happened in Praça Portugal, at the intersection of Dom Luís and Desembargador Moreira avenues. According to Tim, 5G in Fortaleza is available in the Aldeota and Meireles neighborhoods.
The reality, however, differs from the one informed by the operator. I made a wide path within this region, following Avenida Dom Luís from Rua Coronel Jucá to Avenida Desembargador Moreira. I had 5G connection only at this last point. Then, I went along Rua Barbosa de Freitas, from Dom Luís to Avenida Santos Dumont. Again, there was only 4G connection, with the 5G signal returning only when arriving at Santos Dumont.
It is not possible, therefore, to state that entire neighborhoods have 5G. On Tim’s website, the coverage map, which indicates the location of antennas and the type of connection available at each location, does not even indicate regions with 5G DSS in Fortaleza, despite the network’s arrival in Fortaleza having been announced in june.
5G in Fortaleza: testing the connection
To use fifth generation networks it is necessary to have a compatible equipment. In our tests, we used a Realme 7 5G smartphone, which was loaned to the manufacturer and will have a full review published shortly by THE PEOPLE.
With the device in hand, we went to the region where 5G is available in the Capital. We use the Speed Test app to assess the connection, analyzing the following parameters: download speed, upload speed, response time (ping) and packet loss. The tests were carried out connecting to Tim’s server, the same operator that provides the 5G connection.
5G speeds in Fortaleza
In the first criterion, the connection speed pleases, although not surprising. The peak was 89 mbps in download and 51 mbps in upload, with averages of, respectively, 62 mbps and 37 mbps. Considering it’s a cellular connection, it’s hard to imagine scenarios where these speeds don’t meet any usage scenario.
At the same time and place, I tested the connection with my usual smartphone, a Mi Mix 3, from Xiaomi, which uses a Vivo connection and only supports 4G networks. I had averages of 47 mbps on download (peak of 51 mbps) and 56 mbps on upload (peak of 57 mbps).
Conclusion: although Tim’s 5G brings benefits over 4G from the same operator, it it’s not far above 4G connections from other operators.
5G Ping in Fortaleza
The second analysis was from response time, technically called “ping”. This parameter indicates the time it takes for information to leave the cell phone, reach the antenna, and receive a reply – for example, when sending a message on WhatsApp, it is the time it takes to change from the clock icon to the sent icon. A high ping can explain, for example, why certain sites take a long time to start loading, but when they do, they quickly display the entire content.
The very low ping, which allows applications such as autonomous cars and remote surgeries, is one of the 5G internet’s main gains. However, this only happens in the “real” 5G, not being so notable in the DSS technology, which uses 3G and 4G networks mainly for speed increase.
The result, therefore, I didn’t bring any surprises: Response time was significantly shorter – 9 ms on 5G, versus 21 ms on 4G. Still, it’s not equivalent to what the “real” 5G might improve in this regard.
Despite the adequate results in the response time analysis, I noticed that the application took a long time, more than a minute, to achieve start taking the tests. This did not happen with Vivo, on 4G, or on Tim’s own 4G. This difference may indicate a network optimization problem on the part of the operator.
5G in Fortaleza: packet loss
The data that travels on the internet is divided into “packages” of information. This means, for example, that when posting on a social network, if your connection is not good, the post will only be performed when all the content is received by the application. case the internet fall in the middle of the process, and come back right away, the site will notify you that a particular package was not received, and the computer or cell phone will send that information again.
Packet loss therefore measures how many times this situation has happened during the test. It is not enough to have a connection with good speed and response time, if it is unstable and fails to deliver data frequently: lost packets need to be sent again, causing delays to perform an action.
In this regard, Tim’s 5G network brought very worrying results. In six tests performed, there was packet loss in five of them, reaching 17% on one occasion. Any value above zero in this test indicates that the connection is not stable, losing reliability.
Understanding 5G: The Different Generations of Mobile Phones
Cellular telephony, and especially the mobile internet, is divided into several generations. Each one brought significant news and advances in relation to the previous type of connection.
The first generation started with the introduction of cell phones in the 1980s. Using analog signals, it allowed voice calls only. The second generation began to be used in the 1990s and, by using digital signals, allowed the transmission of other types of data: initially text messages, the popular SMS, and eventually an extremely basic internet system for cell phones.
The revolution came with 3G technology, which improved signal quality and connection speed. Widely used in Brazil in the 2000s and early 2010s, it popularized the mobile internet in the country, either in compatible cell phones or in modems, which were connected to computers via a USB connection.
Currently, Brazil uses, in most cities, fourth generation networks, 4G or LTE calls. With even higher speed and better quality connections, it is possible to surf the internet on cell phones in a very similar way to landline connections.
The next step, whose adoption has already started in several countries, are 5G networks. In addition to allowing higher transmission speeds, it has technical features that allow a series of uses beyond the mobile internet, such as the use of smart devices, autonomous cars, remote surgeries, and several other applications. For the average user, however, the most immediate change it should actually be seen in the connection of cell phones, which will be faster and more reliable.
What do I need to use 5G? Which devices are compatible?
To access fifth-generation networks, you need a cell phone that has the technology. Since 2019, top-of-the-line smartphones from major brands have 5G connection – with the exception of Apple: only iPhones from 2020 onwards are supported. Since then, manufacturers have worked on take 5G to cheaper models.
As Brazil uses, so far, 5G DSS technology only, not all smartphones that support fifth-generation networks are able to use the latest connection. It is necessary to confirm, at the time of purchase, if the model is compatible with DSS. If not, he will have access to 5G networks only after the Anatel auction – see more details below.
Has 5G arrived in Brazil?
The problem with adopting 5G in Brazil is that, as in all new generations of mobile telephony, compatible equipment is needed both on the user and on the operator. These devices (cell phones, modems, antennas etc) transmit wireless signals, which need to be authorized and regulated by the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel).
To prevent interference between operators, and with other wireless services such as radio, TV WiFi and Bluetooth, there is a separation of frequencies on which each type of connection can operate. The definition of which frequencies can be used by which operators is done through an auction, carried out by Anatel, where companies bid for the right to operate wireless signals.
For 5G, the auction has not yet been held. It was scheduled to take place in 2020, but has been delayed several times. Among the factors are the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for change in television networks by satellite (which use the same frequency as 5G), and the definition of requirements made by the government for companies that win the auction, such as coverage in public schools, roads and the construction of a private network for public service, in Brasília .
There is, therefore, no “real” 5G in Brazil so far. After several delays, the current expectation is that the auction of frequencies will take place in September or October 2021.
Like temporary solution, Brazilian operators decided to adopt a technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). With DSS, frequencies from 3G and 4G networks that are not in use can be combined, in compatible devices, to give these devices a speed gain. DSS is considered a “preview” of 5G, as it offers advantages over regular 4G networks, but it doesn’t have all the capacity of the “definitive” 5G.
The four major national operators already use DSS in your connections. However, as this technology requires that part of the 3G and 4G networks be “diverted”, and considering that there are still few users, coverage is limited: each one serves a few cities, and only a few neighborhoods in these cities.
The exception is Oi: the operator decided follow a different path competition in adopting 5G DSS, concentrating coverage in a single, large-scale location. The company works with 5G today only in the city of Brasília (DF), but it covers about 80% of the municipality’s area.
5G DSS in Brazil: see the cities covered by operators
- Clear: Manaus (AM), Brasília (DF), Goiânia (GO), São Luís (MA), Belém (PA), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Porto Alegre (RS), Campinas (SP), Guarulhos (SP), Santo André (SP), Santos (SP), São Bernardo do Campo (SP), São Caetano do Sul (SP) and São Paulo (SP);
- Hi: Brasilia DF);
- Tim: Salvador (BA), Fortaleza (CE), Brasília (DF), Belo Horizonte (MG), Recie (PE), Curitiba (PR), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Campinas (SP), Santos (SP) and São Paulo (SP);
- Alive: Salvador (BA), Brasília (DF), Goiânia (GO), Belo Horizonte (MG), Curitiba (PR), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Porto Alegre (RS) and São Paulo (SP).
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