5G is the term used to describe the next-generation of mobile networks beyond LTE mobile networks. At least four major phone carriers in the US — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — have solid plans to introduce their mobile 5G networks. AT&T has even started trials with 5G mobile hotspots in 12 cities. Verizon is advertising a 5G home network (however, Verizon’s offering does not align with what standard bodies are defining as 5G). 5G is generally seen as the fifth generation cellular network technology that provides broadband access.
5G technology is driven by 8 specification requirements
- Up to 10Gbps data rate – > 10 to 100x improvement over 4G and 4.5G networks
- 1-millisecond latency
- 1000x bandwidth per unit area
- Up to 100x number of connected devices per unit area (compared with 4G LTE)
- 99.999% availability
- 100% coverage
- 90% reduction in network energy usage
- Up to 10-year battery life for low power IoT devices
What 5G phones are available?
A number of 5G phone announcements have been made in 2019, however only a handful are currently available, and the choice is further limited by country and carrier.In the US, Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod provides next-generation connectivity to a select few Moto Z handsets, plus the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is also available. For those in the UK, you can currently get hold of five 5G phones; the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G.
How fast is 5G?
5G speeds will vary between locations, countries, carriers and devices, but on the whole the average internet speed you can expect should be much greater than what’s currently offered on 4G.
5G NR speed in sub-6 GHz bands can be slightly higher than the 4G with a similar amount of spectrum and antennas, though some 3GPP 5G networks will be slower than some advanced 4G networks, such as T-Mobile’s LTE/LAA network, which achieves 500+ Mbit/s in Manhattan. The 5G specification allows LAA (License Assisted Access) as well but LAA in 5G has not yet been demonstrated. Adding LAA to an existing 4G configuration can add hundreds of megabits per second to the speed, but this is an extension of 4G, not a new part of the 5G standard.
Speeds in the less common millimeter wave spectrum can be substantially higher.