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.
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.