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5G Network Technology: These are the basics


5G will change our lives … someday.

James Martin / CNET

The next generation of wireless technology, aptly known as 5G, is just around the corner. And it promises to change our lives forever.

At least that says the wireless industry. It really wants 5G to be something.

Since Verizon said it will be the first major telecommunications company to carry out 5G field tests three years ago, the hype surrounding technology has grown. It is referred to as a basic technology that powers areas such as self-driving cars, virtual and advanced reality and telemedicine such as remote operations .

But what exactly is 5G? Why are people so excited? The following describes why the next generation of wireless technology is more than just a speed boost and why you should be thrilled yourself.

What is 5G?

It's the next (fifth) generation of wireless technology that will dramatically improve the speed, range, and responsiveness of wireless networks. How fast are we talking? Think 1

0 to 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection and even faster than anything you can get into your home with a fiber optic cable. (In a matter of seconds you can download the "Stranger Things" of a season.)

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What the hell is a 5G network?


Is it just about speed?

No! One of the main advantages is low latency. You will hear this word mentioned a lot. Latency is the reaction time between clicking a link or streaming a video on the phone, sending the request to the network, and responding to the network or playing your video.

This backlog Time can take up to 20 milliseconds on current networks. It does not seem like much, but with 5G, this latency is reduced to 1 millisecond, or about the time it takes to flash in a normal camera.

This responsiveness is crucial for things like playing an intense video game in virtual reality or for a surgeon in New York to control a pair of robotic arms performing a procedure in San Francisco.

How does it work?

5G initially used a super-high-frequency spectrum that has a shorter range but a higher capacity to deliver a massive line for online access. But in the face of range and interference problems, carriers are starting to explore the low-frequency spectrum – the type used in today's networks to transport 5G over long distances and through walls and other obstacles.

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Motorola 5G Mod, in prototype form

Juan Garzon / CNET

Are there any other benefits?

Yes! The 5G network is designed to connect a far greater number of devices than the traditional mobile network. The Internet of Things that you hear about again and again? 5G can provide multiple devices around you, whether it's a dog collar or a fridge.

The 5G network was also developed specifically for handling equipment used by businesses such as agricultural equipment or ATMs. Beyond speed, it is also designed to work differently for connected products that do not require a permanent connection, such as a fertilizer sensor. These types of low-power scanners are designed to work on the same battery for 10 years and still be able to periodically send data.

Sounds good, but when is 5G coming?

Verizon will launch the world's first "5G" service in October, but it's a bit technical in nature.

The service is not a mobile service, but a fixed broadband replacement. An installer must use special equipment that can pick up the 5G signals and make them a Wi-Fi connection in-house for your other devices to access.

There is also a debate on whether the service qualifies for 5G at all because it does not use the standards that the industry has agreed on. The company wanted to jump forward and used its own technology. Verizon argues that speeds ranging from 300 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second qualify the service for 5G tagging. Its rivals and even experts from chip manufacturer Qualcomm deny the claim.

The launch is extremely limited in select neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Sacramento, California, Indianapolis and Dallas. (Let us know if you're one of the lucky few to get it.)

Okay, but what about Mobile 5G?

Verizon says it will launch its 5G phone next year. AT & T seems to be the first company to offer a true 5G service. It plans to launch 5G in six markets this year – Atlanta, Dallas and Waco, Texas, Oklahoma City and Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina.

As with the Verizon introduction, you expect the introduction of 5G to be extremely limited in these cities.

There will not be any 5G phones yet, so you'll initially get hockey-puck-style wireless hotspot devices that can hook into those networks.

No 5G phones? Can not I just record 5G with my existing smartphone?

Sorry, no. 5G technology requires a specific antenna set that is not yet available. Sprint plans to release the first US smartphone next year which is being built by LG.

5G smartphones are expected to appear in the first half of next year.

How far will 5G be available next year?

There is a greater likelihood that you will be able to use the 5G service (once you have a compatible phone), but it will still be limited.

T-Mobile says that will launch 30 cities next year while sprint will start in six cities .

But do not think that you have to buy the first 5G smartphone. The chances are good, the service will not be good until 2020 or after.

Our 5G Glossary

Want to show your friends the 5G knowledge? Or do you seem to be the smartest person at a party? Take a look at our 5G glossary below.


The 5G bit is pretty obvious, but the NR stands for New Radio. You do not need to know much about it, except for the fact that it is the name of the standard that is breaking the whole wireless industry, and it just came out in December.

This is important because it means that everyone is on the same page when it comes to their 5G mobile networks. Carriers like AT & T and T-Mobile are following 5G NR in building their networks. But Verizon, which has tested 5G as a broadband replacement service before the standard was approved, is not yet using the standard. The company says it will accept 5G NR for its broadband service and intends to use NR for its 5G mobile network.

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