What is 5G and what does this mean for us?

But what actually is it? And is it really going to transform the world as we know it?

07 July 2020


By Mariusz Bogacki, Researcher and Science Communicator, Edinburgh

The next generation of digital cellular network technology is finally being rolled out in selected cities around the world. This upgraded mobile networking system will allow us to connect to the internet faster than ever and without any interruptions - even in busy city center locations. But the effects of 5G will be felt far beyond our mobile phone screens.

Need for speed

Connection speed and reliability are the most noticeable features of the update. 5G is around 10 times faster than its 4G predecessor. While the average speed of the connection is estimated at between 150-200mbs (Megabits per second), its full capacity is above 1gbs (Gigabit per second). In practice, this means you will be able to download a full HD movie in a matter of seconds or enjoy seamless streaming and gaming on your mobile phone. So, get ready to say goodbye to video buffering, lagging FaceTime or lost connection during your daily commute. These advancements in wireless technology also have the potential to revolutionise traditional home broadband in the near future. No cables and one contract for all my devices? Yes, please!

Internet of Things

5G isn’t just a game changer for the entertainment industry. The technology is also instrumental in the advancement of the Internet of Things, a system of interconnected and interrelated computing devices able to transfer data with no human interaction. IoT will enable you to link all home smart devices and control them in real time. Additionally, new cars will be equipped with 5G technology, allowing them to ‘talk to each other’, improving road safety and eventually supporting a self-driving mode. Adopting 5G is also crucial in fulfilling the requirements of Smart Cities, allowing instant access to services and applications, streamlining the tasks needed to run our cities safely and efficiently.

Digital Revolution

At the end of the day, the true value of 5G lies in the opportunities it creates for people, businesses and the world at large, with industries, regions, towns and cities that are more connected, smarter and more sustainable. Faster and more reliable connection will revitalise businesses,  allowing them to fully digitalise their services and tap into new emerging revenue streams. We can also expect to see a wave of new tech products and services. Just think of how the arrival of 4G has transformed the world around you: new mobile devices, tech gadgets and endless new services and apps improving our work and leisure time. With 5G being 10 times faster than our current infrastructure, the sky is the limit!

Admittedly a full implementation and adoption of the technology around the world will take years. Yet, countries and companies are already competing in order to get a head start in what some experts predict to be the new Industrial Revolution. The race is on but perhaps this time around we are all going to be (forever connected) winners.