5G takes your wireless connection to the next level

5G was big news at Mobile World Congress, but how does it improve on your 4G connection?

02 Mar 2016


As well as the new products on offer at this year’s Mobile World Congress we also saw some of the hardware powering the tech – and it was 5G mobile broadband that got everyone talking.

5G used to seem really futuristic, but now we’re starting to see how it could be used in our everyday lives.

 Driverless car

What is 5G?

If you use your smartphone to get online, you’ll have noticed that mobile broadband has come a long way in recent years.

First we had 3G, which let you browse the web at a decent speed when you were away from home. Then 4G brought us an improved connection with a much wider reach, for faster downloads and video streaming on the go.

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband – but it’s significantly faster and much more powerful than the step up from 3G to 4G. It could open up a whole new set of possibilities for how we use not only our phones, but all our other Smart devices, in future. 


How does it improve on 4G?

With 5G, you could get a connection that’s 100 times faster than current wireless speeds – whether that’s for web browsing, uploading photos or downloading TV shows and movies.

It’s even more efficient than current superfast Fibre connections that connect to your home using wires.

In fact, experts predict you’ll be able to download a full length HD movie in a matter of seconds. Some of the other things you’ll be able to do with a 5G connection are:

  • keep in touch over video calls, without any annoying lag interrupting your conversation as it’ll drastically speed up the transfer of information between devices
  • get the information you want with instantaneous web page loading
  • and all without draining your battery – 5G doesn’t need nearly as much power to run as 4G


What will it be used for? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg – experts have been laying out their predictions for how it could be used. Some of these include:

  • Virtual reality gaming – stream content to your headset over a 5G connection or play in multiplayer mode without any lag between you and your teammates. You could even get VR content on your mobile thanks to the fast data speeds
  • Coordinating driverless cars – because 5G networks are so fast, cars could communicate with each other or take instruction from a central hub, getting rid of the need for traffic lights altogether.
  • More efficient Smart home – 5G could enable devices around your home to communicate with each other. It’s so powerful it could even be used to link up whole cities

 Smart home thermostat

When can we get it?

Already some of the biggest names in the mobile broadband industry are developing 5G prototypes.

South Korea could be among the first countries to get 5G – one of its main providers, KT, is set to go live with a 5G service in time for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2018. Its business partner Samsung will supply some of the first 5G-enabled phones

Intel is also working with companies such as Huawei, Nokia and Verizon on a series of 5G trials for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, PCs and Smart tech.

While Facebook has launched its own initiative to get behind 5G – with a focus on video and virtual reality.

Although it should be said that right now actually having 5G on your phone is still a long way off – it’s unlikely to become mainstream until 2020.

See our MWC coverage in full