The arrival of 5G has been underway for years. The new network technology promises a higher speed of 4G, with also a shorter delay between device and server. As a result, videos stream faster, downloads are earlier and it is possible to control devices such as drones via 5G.

Which providers offer 5G?

From July 28, 5G will be available from the three major Dutch providers: VodafoneZiggo, KPN and T-Mobile. VodafoneZiggo has been offering 5G since the end of April, because the provider could already use its 4G frequencies for this.

In theory, small providers could also offer 5G, because they use the network of one of the three large parties. At the moment they do not offer 5G subscriptions here.

Do I notice much of the speed increase?

Not yet. The current speed increase will therefore feel minimal. Vodafone spoke at the end of April about a connection that is 10 percent faster than 4G, while T-Mobile states that customers will notice a small acceleration. KPN just says that the connection will be faster.

The providers initially only use the 700MHz band, but much higher speeds require the 3.5GHz frequency. Providers should not just use those frequency bands: those of 700MHz recently came into the hands of the companies through a government auction. But the auction for 3.5GHz will not take place until 2022.

In short: only when the higher tire is auctioned in 2022 will the 5G speeds become much higher than is currently the case. Until then, there has been a modest increase in speed.

What about coverage?

At present, the 5G network of none of the providers has national coverage. At T-Mobile the network is currently available in The Hague “and a large part of the Netherlands”. In addition, the company does not say which locations in the Netherlands exactly have coverage. A coverage map will be made available shortly. The provider hopes to offer 5G throughout the Netherlands before the end of this year.

KPN starts in five cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven. The national coverage will follow with this provider sometime in 2021.

VodafoneZiggo is ahead in terms of coverage and covers approximately 80 percent of the Netherlands. A map of the provider shows which locations are involved. Many of the larger cities in the Netherlands are already planned.

How can I use 5G now?

You need two things to use 5G: a supported plan and a smartphone that can receive 5G.

It differs per provider what kind of subscription you need. T-Mobile allows its Unlimited subscribers to join the 5G network, while VodafoneZiggo and KPN also offer 5G with many bundles. It is wise to check with your provider whether your specific subscription also has 5G access, or whether you need to upgrade.

Many of the smartphones that appeared in recent months work with 5G, but not all. For example, Apple does not yet have any iPhone that supports 5G: the first 5G iPhones are expected in September this year with the arrival of the iPhone 12. Therefore, check whether your device supports the technology at all.

What about the health risks?

The use of 5G is safe for the time being, say the RIVM and the Telecom Agency. They come to this conclusion by measuring the radiation at the transmission towers and studying scientific research.

These tests show that the 5G transmission towers do not emit more electromagnetic radiation than is permitted. Those limits are based on scientific research. If radiation remains below that standard, exposure to it is not harmful to health.

Also watch our explanation video about radiation and 5G: