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We live in a world where technology is ingrained in our lives both at home and in the workplace. In fact, it’s hard to imagine life before the world of tech, where smartphones, televisions, washing machines and advanced machinery didn’t exist.

Technology has made day-to-day tasks in our personal and professional lives significantly smoother, simpler and faster, such as the transition from paper to digital documents at work to machines that wash and dry all of our clothes in little over an hour.

The entertainment industry has arguably been one of the most affected industries of all, with our spare time often involving some form of technology or use of the internet. From going to the cinema to watch 3D films, to relaxing at home listening to music on our top of the range speakers which connect wirelessly to our mobile phones.

Since the birth of the internet, accessing entertainment off our phones, laptops, tablets and computers has never been easier, with just a few swipes and clicks we can download our favourite tv series or album. But the staggering speeds at which we can access and download videos, music and images online has not always been that way. When looking back at the evolution of download speeds, the advancements  technology has made is astonishing.

What is download speed?

Download speed is essentially a measurement of the rate at which data can be transferred from the internet to your mobile device. People can download all sorts of data from all sorts of places on the web, from an entire webpage, to a photo or a film you want to watch online.

One of the main areas we notice download speed is in wireless communication technology, such as inside mobile phones and other mobile devices, where speeds have been improving for over several decades now.

The release of 1G, the first generation that was revolutionary for its time was introduced in the 1980s, followed by 2G brought in during the early 1990s. Nearly 30 years later and EE launched their first 5G product just a few weeks ago, with Vodafone set to follow shortly.

The transformation of download speeds can be tracked by looking at a graphic recently produced by RS Components, which shows the evolution of 2G to 5G and how remarkable the difference is between the two generations.

2G Download Speeds

Deemed to be fast in its time, the download speeds of 2G are likely to surprise any millennial or Generation Z of how long it used to take to download an image, song or photograph. Planning a movie night in would take days to organise, with the download time for an HD film taking a staggering 4 days, 11 hours, 22 minutes and 27 seconds.

Downloading the album of your favourite singer or band would also take a long time, relative to the speed it takes in the present day, with one song taking 4 minutes and 11 seconds. A photo to your phone would even take 2 minutes and 47 seconds to download.

Download speeds today

Download speeds have come on leaps and bounds, with each generation getting faster and faster. 3G saw the download time of films become significantly faster compared to 2G, taking just 7 hours, 9 minutes and 28 seconds. 4G reduced this even further, with some versions able to download films in just 10 minutes and 44 seconds.

The advancement from 2G to 4G and 5G has seen the time it takes to download songs or photographs reduced to around a second or even less.

How much faster really is 5G compared to 4G, 3G and 2G?

5G promises much higher connection speeds, lower latency and claims to be more reliable than the 4G networks we have currently. 5G isn’t only quicker than 4G, but is also built for both capacity and speed.

Download speeds are expected to be 5-10 times quicker than 4G, meaning a movie will download in seconds rather than minutes. One of the most important differences with 5G is that it will increase the carrying capacity of the masts, meaning more people can connect at the same time.

This technology is only set to mature over the next few years as download capacity and speed improves even more. With the rate of technological advancements being what they are, it’s hard to imagine what a 6G or 7G may look like in terms of speed and capabilities.

What will download speeds look like over the next few years?


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