What is 5G?

Motorola’s first UK mobile phone from 1983, cost £2,600

5G stands for 5th Generation, the next flavour of cellular mobile technology (ie Internet managed by mobile phone companies over their networks).

Why the hype?

Those of us who witnessed the birth (ha, those pre-Internet days!) and evolution of IT technology have an understandable contempt borne of marketing fatigue for ‘the next new thing’.

However, we are now at a major milestone in IT. Three clear innovations are coming at us fast, and they are screaming out for a new kind of Internet to work properly. The Internet they demand must be much faster, much more responsive, available everywhere and be cheap. What are they?

  1. Machine Learning aka AI. This is in effect a Database/Dataset lookup in real time, and needs very quick send<->response times and the analysis & movement of large amounts of data. It might be your Doctor referencing your scans with the NHS Database or that facial recognition App on your iPhone indexing every Internet image (yes, this is reality; Cambridge Analytica claims a 3 billion image database).
  2. Internet-Of-Things aka ioT. Everything we buy, use and interact with will have network connectivity; from your heart pacemaker to your car tyres, from your sunglasses to your trainers. Devices will be under the observation and control of more and more complex automated systems, designed to be efficient, responsive and presumably make profit. This is not necessary a bad thing, which is just as well because AI is here to stay. These devices will make your iPhone & FitBit look as hi-tech as the Motorola phone above.
  3. Virtual Reality. Not just for video games but a million different uses.

5G will fill this gap with two criteria.

Being rolled out first by O2 in summer 2020, 5G promises transmission speeds that are theoretically 100 times faster than 4G (current fastest).

Download a 2 hour HD movie in under 4 seconds (compare to 26hrs on 3G)

Response rates up to 10x faster than standard home Internet. This is essential for new technologies to run properly.