Feature Article

What Is 5G?

5G explained: How fast is 5G, when it's coming out, and more.

After Mobile World Congress 18 last week, there's been a lot of talk about 5G lately, but what is 5G? In short, it will supercede the current 4G LTE standard and represents the fifth generation wireless system. 5G (Not to be confused with 5GHz Wi-Fi) sets out to offer significantly faster mobile Internet speeds.

How Fast Is 5G?

Once it's implemented, the goal is to allow download speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. That's really fast. To give you a frame of reference, 4G LTE typically tops off at around 50 megabits. This makes 5G theoretically up to 200 times faster. Depending on where you are, you're not likely to consistently reach those top speeds, however. 5G is aiming for a minimum speed of 100 Mbps, which is still roughly twice as fast as 4G LTE running at peak performance.

Other Benefits Besides Speed

Beyond speed, 5G purports to offer additional benefits. Lower latency is chief among them. 5G is targeting a five millisecond response time, which could tie in nicely with emerging self-driving car technology and could theoretically enable streaming VR content over a mobile internet connection. VR requires a low latency signal to mitigate judder, which could cause motion sickness.

5G also aims to offer better coverage than 4G LTE. The goal is to cover 1,000,000 devices per square kilometer so that it will prevent signal degradation in crowded areas like concerts and sports stadiums.

In addition, 5G supports beamforming, which is a technology that can prioritize bandwidth to designated traffic-heavy areas.

Proponents assert that 5G could facilitate new technological innovations, much in the way that 4G LTE allowed for the existence of transportation apps like Uber, which required faster, better connection than 3G could offer.

Obstacles

5G is currently rolling out its infrastructure. Several companies like Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, and more are leading the charge to make that happen. These companies are experimenting with 5G now. AT&T revealed in February that Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas will receive 5G access by the end of the year. Intel asserts that "worldwide subscriptions could reach more than 2.6 billion by 2025."

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    Jimmy Thang

    Hi! I'm Jimmy Thang and I'm GameSpot's Tech Editor!
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