5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology. It succeeds the 4G (LTE/WiMax), 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity.
The primary difference between 5G and the previous 4G systems is that 5G targets mobile devices and IoT devices (IoT = Internet of Things) with the intent of making them more ubiquitous, and to provide high-quality experience with higher speeds. It is designed to work with existing 4G networks.
As of 2019, the fastest 5G networks have been shown to offer download speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s, and upload speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s. 5G offers reduced latency, which is the delay between a user input and the resulting response from the system. 5G networks are being designed to have a latency of 1 ms or less.
The higher speeds and reduced latency of 5G will enable new applications and services that were not possible with previous generations of cellular technology. These include virtual reality, augmented reality, and remote surgery. 5G will also enable new business models and create new opportunities for industries and companies.
5G systems are being deployed by cellular network operators, device manufacturers, and Internet service providers. By the end of 2019, the number of operators offering 5G networks had grown to 30. In the U.S., Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. all offer 5G service, as do the UK’s EE, Vodafone Group PLC, and Three.
5G services are being deployed at an increasing rate. By the end of 2019, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks had been deployed in more than 6.8 million square kilometers, while 5G networks had been deployed in more than 1.6 million square kilometers. This is a significant increase from the end of 2018, when 5G networks had been deployed in only about 500,000 square kilometers.
The increase in 5G deployments is being driven by the growing demand for higher data speeds and lower latency. 5G is also being driven by the need for more capacity to support the growing number of mobile devices and IoT devices.
The deployment of 5G networks is also being driven by the development of new applications and services that require the higher speeds and lower latency of 5G. These include virtual reality, augmented reality, and remote surgery. 5G is also enabling new business models and creating new opportunities for industries and companies.