5G refers to the fifth generation of the mobile network standard that is significantly faster than the current 4G standard. A 5G internet connection will enable much faster download speeds and will have much lower latency (the time the network takes to respond to a signal) which will enable a range of new applications particularly those related to the Internet of Things (IoT).
A 5G internet connection will enable smartphones to do all the things they do now except faster and better according to mobile data analysts. The increased speed of the 5G standard could enable applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality on a smartphone, ability to download much higher quality video among others. It could also provide a 5G internet connection to those that currently cannot receive broadband connections through other means via a 5G enabled router that operates on the mobile network.
The technology to enable 5G is currently being implemented and rolled out across the mobile network but users might not see significant speed improvements in the short term. Network operators are currently using it to boost the capacity of the existing core 4G network to ensure a more reliable and consistent service for their users. Operators need to invest in and roll out new masts and transmitters for 5G to achieve better coverage before its full benefits will be seen. These transmitters will be much smaller and closer to the ground than existing towers but will be required in much higher numbers because they do not have the reach of larger transmitters.
Once fully rolled out and providing high coverage 5G networks could provide download speeds that are up to 10 and 20 times faster than what can be achieved through the 4G network. That would enable, for example, the download of a high definition film in less than a minute. The improvement in latency will enable games to provide instant response when a button is pressed, for example, or for applications that enable self-driving cars to communicate with other cars on the road and react to them in real time.
5G is a response to the ever increasing demands for data and fast communications on which the digital ecosystem depends and to address congestion on existing networks when many users attempt to access the service. Over time, truly innovative applications will be developed that take advantage of the speed and responsiveness of this new standard.