The next evolution in wireless communication, 5G is a hot topic in tech circles. And, after years of hype, it was announced last week that the UK finally has a 5G network.

But what actually is it?

The history of mobile internet connectivity

5G is the fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity. Previous generations were:

  • 1G. First introduced in Japan in 1979, the first generation of wireless cellular technology (which wasn’t called 1G at the time) used analogue signals to transfer voice information. While undoubtedly ground-breaking, 1G wasn’t at all secure
  • 2G. The next generation of wireless cellular technology was digitally encrypted. 2G also made text messages, picture messaging and multi-media messaging possible (SMS and MMS)
  • 3G. Offering increased internet speeds, 3G made mobile internet and video calls possible
  • 4G. This is the current standard in mobile phone technology. And, compared to 3G, it offers significantly increased download and upload speeds. 4G is needed to support many of the functionalities that modern smartphones offer.

How is 5G different?

In the dawn of the Internet of Things, more and more devices are coming online. At the same time, such devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated. In response, a new generation of connectivity is now required.

What are the benefits of 5G technology?

5G promises to deliver:

  • Much faster download and upload speeds
  • Wider coverage
  • More stable internet connections.

In fact, according to the BBC, Ofcom suggests that, in time, 5G could offer speeds of 20Gbps, That’s fast enough to download an ultra-high definition 4K movie in less time than it takes to read its description. So 5G is the key to a superfast mobile internet.

But the reality is that many of the benefits probably aren’t even apparent to us yet.

How revolutionary is 5G?

The combination of fifth generation cellular and cloud technologies could be game-changing. In fact, 5G is essential to creating a world in which everything is connected. And where those connections are both secure and instantaneous. So, over the next decade, 5G is likely to impact every single industry.

“Imagine you’re sitting at a red traffic light. The light turns green, allowing you to proceed. As you take your foot off the brake, however, your car senses that a vehicle approaching the intersection is moving too fast and will likely run the red light. In response, your car applies the brakes to keep you safe as the scofflaw blasts through the intersection.

Your car didn’t see the other vehicle using motion sensors or cameras, which is how today’s crash-avoidance systems work. Instead, your car was talking to the other car wirelessly via 5G. It knew the direction of travel, the speed, and whether or not the driver was braking. Your car saved your life thanks to the power of 5G.”

Eric Zeman

And, while 5G will not change the world drastically in a matter of months, make no mistake that we are at the start of a new digital era.

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