February 28, 2018
The Future of 5G (Simplified)

By: Ashley Thielen and Maria Ruiz

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about 5G – the next network revolution. But what exactly is 5G? What does it mean for the average consumer? We’re here to give you a high-level crash course in 5G and its implications, without the technical jargon (yes, Buzzpad is where writing gets techy, but not THAT techy).

You’re welcome

5G is the successor of 4G LTE. The G stands for “Generation.” (You thought it’d be higher tech, huh? Us too.) The various generations are defined by their data transmission speeds and have been marked by a break in encoding methods, also known as air interfaces, which make them incompatible with the previous generation [1].

Wireless phone technology started in the early 1990s with 1G, which relied on analog radio signals – these were the giant brick phones from back in the day.

90s kids will understand

The technology expanded to 2G wireless networks and enabled people to send text messages between 2 devices with the transition from analog to digital radio signals. The third generation, 3G, brought in faster data transmission speeds which gave mobile cellphone users the ability to access the internet.

To the internet!

4G enhanced many of the capabilities from the 3rd generation of wireless technology with increased speed. With 4G, people were able to download and upload large video files. Wireless companies then added LTE (Long Term Evolution) to 4G connectivity, making it faster and more consistent. It is currently available to 98 percent of Americans [2].


Evolution, am I right?

So, what will 5G bring to the table?

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 1 in 10 U.S. adults use the internet via mobile only [1]. The 5th generation of wireless technologies goal is to support the rising number of mobile internet users by providing faster speed, greater responsiveness, capacity for more data and ability to bring connectivity to smart devices. Ultimately, the impact of 5G can be broken down into three categories: 1) greater speed, 2) lower latency and 3) the ability to connect more devices at one.

The internet that gets you 

5G will dramatically increase the speed at which data is transferred, allowing users to move more data. It has the potential to provide speeds up to 10 gigabytes per second – that’s 10 times faster than average 4G LTE speeds [3]! You can download the latest season of your favorite Netflix show or an entire HD movie in just seconds with speeds like this! Such speeds can also be useful when using a VR application on your phone or streaming 4K live TV.

Hasta la vista baby

5G will also allow for reduced latency, or quicker response time during data transfer. For example, the response time between when you click a link on your phone, sent the request to the network and when the network responds and takes you to the link, will be faster. Lag time can last about 20 milliseconds and with 5G, that will be reduced to 1 millisecond [6]. Fast response times can be critical for connected devices like self-driving cars that need to slam on breaks or robotic surgery devices that are performing a procedure.

Say goodbye to reckless drivers

Finally, 5G will provide the ability to connect a lot more devices at once – think connected devices and smart home! We are in an era where AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (internet of things) is transforming life as we know it by connecting everything. Analysts estimate that by 2020 there will be more than 20 billion installed IoT devices around the world [7]. Unlike 4G LTE, 5G technology will provide the capacity to power all these connected devices.

When will we see 5G? The major carriers are looking to deploy mobile 5G in select cities this year, with nationwide coverage within the next 2 years. However, consumers won’t see real benefits until 5G capable devices reach the market, which will likely come with a big price tag!

Or maybe we could just stick with old school…


Check out how Artificial Intelligence will affect our future here!


[1] https://www.pcmag.com/article/345387/what-is-5g

[2] https://www.usmobile.com/blog/5g-will-affect-consumer/

[3] https://gizmodo.com/what-is-5g-and-how-will-it-make-my-life-better-1760847799

[4] http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/29/technology/what-is-5g/index.html

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/29/what-is-5g.html

[6] https://www.cnet.com/how-to/5g-network-technology-here-are-the-basics/

[7] https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603770/the-5g-economy-how-5g-will-impact-global-industries-the-economy-and-you/

[8] https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/msn/t-mobile-will-deploy-blazing-5g-this-year-but-you-cant-use-it-yet/ar-BBJFwzQ

[9] http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-5g-wireless-is-coming-20180109-story.html