5G is short for "5th Generation", the name for the next generation of mobile cellular networks. 1G networks brought us the first cell phones, 2G networks allowed for text messaging, and 3G networks introduced mobile internet for the first time. Currently in use is 4G which has been deployed globally since 2009. 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the latest version of 4G that allows a download rate of up to around 200Mbps. However, 4G networks have just about reached the limit of their capabilities at a time when users want even more data and faster speeds for their cell phones and other devices. Therefore, the need for a new type of network technology that can provide faster speeds and transmit more data to more users is pressing.
Technically speaking, "5G" is defined only as a set of standards – such as latency, network connection density, and data transfer rate – that the next generation of mobile networks should be able to achieve. Once these standards can be met, 5G should be able to handle up to 1000 times more traffic than today's networks, and be up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE.
To be able to meet these standards, various new technologies will be needed. For example, to support a huge increase in the number of online devices, a new band on the radio frequency spectrum (between 30 – 300GHz) will be opened for use. However, this band of radio frequency consists of "millimeter waves" which are more easily blocked by buildings and absorbed by plants and rain. Therefore, thousands of small base stations ("small cell technology") will be needed to be installed, forming a relay team to transmit signals around obstacles. In addition, to support the latency requirements of 5G, Multi-access Edge Computing
technology (MEC) will need to be introduced on a large scale into cellular networks so that the data that the user needs (such as a streaming video) can exist physically closer to the user.