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Mobile phones and technology have been advancing in leaps and bounds since they became commonplace in the typical consumer’s life. Internet service providers and mobile phone companies alike have been working both cooperatively and competitively to continue that advancement of technology. Up next on the docket? The 5G network.

What is 5G?

At this time, the definition of 5G is still a little vague. What we do know is that 5G stands for 5th Generation, or the 5th version of wireless network technology. At this point, we are all used to seeing that little 4G LTE in the top right corner of our screen (or for those in more rural areas, a 3G might be more common). Right now, 4G LTE is what allows you to watch videos, stream music and browse the internet at fast speeds.

Based on the current limitations of 4G, we can expect that 5G will:

  • Improve coverage and capacity
  • Reduce latency (the delay before data transfer)
  • Increase data speeds

What does 5G mean for mobile devices?

As with most changes in technology, devices and hardware will need to be updated so they are compatible with the 5G network. This could mean more antennas in your cell phone to access faster speeds, or it could mean hardware and software that hasn’t even been developed yet. Until 5G is more clearly defined, companies that rely on mobile networks are at a bit of a standstill to truly start developing technology that taps into the 5G network.

5G will be a game changer for all devices that connect to a wireless or mobile network. In addition to cell phones, things like houses and cars will see a great benefit from the adoption of a 5G network. This next generation will take things like smart homes and self-driving cars from concept to reality for the average consumer.

When can I expect to see 5G on my phone?

While 5G may still be in development, that doesn’t mean your 4G network will remain stagnant. Mobile and internet service providers are continuing to push the limits of what is possible on the current 4G LTE network, even calling updates “pre-5G”. True 5G will likely build on LTE technology, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Most carriers in the US are working towards the goal of rolling out 5G by 2020, but many are working to make that a reality sooner. Verizon is planning testing in major cities by mid-2017 and AT&T is hoping to deploy 5G by late 2018. T-Mobile and Sprint are also in the 5G game, but are making it more of an event than a service and are targeting specific wireless devices.

One thing is for sure, 5G will drastically change how the Internet of Things connects. With faster reaction times, higher speeds and more room for everyone to be on the network, staying connected will be easier than ever.

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