5G - definition

Glossary

5G is the fifth generation of mobile phone communications standards. It is a successor to 4G and promises to be faster than previous generations while opening up new uses cases for mobile data.

Some countries state that they will launch 5G networks late 2018 or early 2019. While the UK, for example, is expected to start rolling out 5G in 2020.

The top-performing 4G, LTE networks can deliver peak download speeds of 300Mbit/s. In comparison, 5G estimates range from 1Gb/s - 10Gb/s.

For context, that will allow a 1080p HD movie to be downloaded to your smartphone in 10-40 seconds.

5G benefits from a much lower latency, resulting in very little delay. This low latency will be critical for applications such as self-driving cars. A typical 4G network has a 45ms latency compared to 5G's theoretical 1ms.

A 5G network will also have greater capacity and will better cope with high demand.

5G uses new higher radio frequencies because they are less cluttered and can carry information much faster.

However, higher frequencies don't travel as far. 5G is enabled by having a larger number of smaller multiple input and output (MIMO) antennas closer together.

Operators are able to configure a single physical network in multiple virtual networks 'slices'. These 'slices' can be allocated accordingly and therefore manage the network better and delivering the appropriate resources dependent on the application.

Currently, very few mobile phones are 5G capable.