What is 5G?

5G is the 5th Generation of cellular wireless technology.

The first generation of mobile networks, introduced in 1979, used analog radio technology and only allowed voice calls. The second generation switched to digital radio and provided data transport for text and emails. Each successive generation has brought greater transmission speed, making Internet access and video streaming possible.

The latest generation will bring the greatest advance to date in network speed, enabling near-realtime data availability. As with past upgrades, however, this next generation will require new phones, devices and communication infrastructure.

Network speeds from 1-6G
5G represents the biggest boosts in speed since the introduction of wireless networking in 1979.

How is 5G Different?

Two words explain the difference between our current wireless networks and 5G: speed and latency. 5G—if you believe the hype—is expected to be up to a hundred times faster. (A two-hour movie could be downloaded in less than four seconds.) That speed will reduce, and possibly eliminate, the delay—the latency—between instructing a computer to perform a command and its execution. 

In the U.S., 5G will use a band of the radio spectrum that has never before been used for cellular data networks: high-frequency radio waves the length of millimeters rather than centimeters. This wide open “road” will accommodate more data and reduce delays in data transfer (latency) even in peak use hours. 4G towers were designed to support approximately 6,500 devices per square mile, whereas 5G can support upwards of 1 million devices in the same area.

How can 5G Benefit Your City/County/State?

The potential upside to greater capacity and network speed is huge. Surges in cellular network use during emergency events are less likely to slow or prevent vital communications between citizens and first responders. 5G will be the underlying infrastructure to help usher in fully autonomous vehicles, intelligent public safety cameras and connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices used throughout city infrastructure. Jurisdictions with 5G networks are likely to attract tech-savvy residents and businesses that leverage those connections for new digital business models and reach new customers.

Citizen-Centered Design

Government needs to be more innovative and take an outside-in approach to the design and delivery of government services to fulfill the commitments being made by political leaders and government executives.

Developing an understanding and empathy is key to the CCD approach, but the people directly involved in the process are often too close to the problem to be able to think outside the box. This is often the case for frontline workers with a government-centric process-driven mindset. The ability to ideate is dependent on the individual’s abilities to look past how things are done today Establish a cross-functional team that includes a mix of backgrounds and capabilities — from inside and outside of the organization — to maximize the effectiveness of the CCD process.

Government organizations that directly service or support citizens have been early adopters of CCD, and the related techniques are already in use and led by business areas. For example, local governments can take an HCD approach to focus Smart City strategies around the problems that matter to their cities.