The "G" stands for generation, and each subsequent generation of mobile network refers to a specific minimum speed, connectivity and reliability. The higher the generation, the better the network.
The latest 5G network technology has already made an impact around the world with its limitless possibilities.
Mobile network technology has improved by leaps and bounds since its inception in the late 1940s. The 1G network made its debut in 1981, when tech became advanced enough to commercially manufacture miniature telephones.
Fast forward to today, and many assume that 5G would just be like the existing 4G network, but a little faster and more reliable. These assumptions are true, but the 5G technology nothing short of a massive breakthrough, and it will fundamentally change our lives for the better.
The 5G will improve how devices connect to the internet and more importantly, to each other. As the technology starts to expand over the next two years, it will transform how everything with a wireless connection operates and how we interact with them.
Let's take a dive into the details.
First of all, the 5G will offer unprecedented internet speed over wireless networks, up to 100-250 times faster than 4G. In comparison, the 4G provides internet speed up to 10-20 Mbps (megabits), while the 5G will offer speed up to 20 Gbps (gigabits).
To put it simply, a 5G connection will allow us to stream a hundred 8k movies simultaneously, while with 4G you can only stream just one HD movie at most.
The wireless speed is phenomenal, but it is not the most impressive aspect the technology. What makes 5G a breakthrough is its crazy low latency rate.
Latency is the delay between sending and receiving information over a network.
4G's latency averages around 100-200 milliseconds (a thousandth of a second), which is not too bad. But the 5G will cut down latency to just one millisecond, practically making all communication real-time.
That means, we can interact with other people, machines and objects without any lag or delays. You can play a first person game with real people on your virtual reality headset on a mobile network.
You can also fly a drone, drive a car or operate machinery remotely from anywhere.
The 5G will significantly boost the performance and efficiency of self-driving cars. The technology will allow a network of automated cars to send and receive data among each other and to communicate with traffic lights, road sensors and unmanned air drones.
Self-driving cars supported by the 5G network can not only minimise road accidents, they could also curb traffic jams. Autonomous or remotely controlled delivery trucks, buses, trains and passenger aircraft might be on the horizon too.
Expert surgeons could perform surgeries on patients from the other side of the world with robots controlled through 5G network, assisted by robots controlled by other expert surgeons across the globe simultaneously.
This technology will save lives where time and distance are the deciding factor.
Factories can be run with mobile robots that can coordinate their operations and positions to each other using the 5G network, allowing them not only to improve efficiency, but productivity as well.
Imagine a fleet of drones flying over a field of crops, using sensors on the ground to water, feed and pick individual plant, fully autonomously.
The technology will also advance the on-device artificial intelligence. A combination of AI and 5G will allow wearable medical devices and phones to work together quickly and smartly to identify health issues on real-time and alert a doctor.
The advent of 4G network has paved the way for innovations such as the ride sharing service Uber, and streaming services like Netflix. So, in terms of 5G, the sky could be the limit.
The deployment of 5G networks got a running start across the world in 2019, and is set to expand rapidly over the course of 2020-21.
Huawei's 5G controversy explained
Huawei was the world's number 1 telecom equipment supplier and number 2 phone manufacturer in 2019, but the company is no stranger to controversy.
The USA believes that the company poses a security risk, because the Chinese government could use the firm to engineer backdoors in its 5G technology. The alleged backdoors would then allow Beijing to access a sea of information with impunity.
In May 2019, President Donald Trump banned US corporations from trading and sharing technology with Huawei, and he has been putting pressure on other nations to do the same.
Last October, the UK decided to grant Huawei access to parts of 5G networks, despite the US insisting that Huawei's network infrastructure represents a serious security threat.
The issue has a chance of complicating the UK's ties with the US. Washington claims that allowing Huawei to manufacture parts of the 5G network infrastructure will risk exposing state secrets to Chinese spies.
Adding fuel to the fire, Donald Trump berated Boris Johnson during a heated phone call on February 7 after the British prime minister rejected the US president's request to ban Huawei from its next-generation broadband networks.