It’s the next generation
5G is short for ‘fifth generation mobile networks’.
It is the fifth generation of mobile networks (with a mobile network being what we use to call, text and – when not connected to a Wi-Fi network – get online).
But it’s set to be faster than previous generations, and unlike 4G it could open up whole new uses.
First-generation networks were introduced in the 1980s – they were analogue and only carried voice.
In the ‘90s, 2G (or second generation) phones launched and they were digital, introducing new features like text messages and picture messages.
The early 2000s ushered in 3G (third generation) which started to include video calling and mobile data.
Ten years later we saw 4G, and these networks and phones were designed to support mobile internet and higher speeds for activities like video streaming and gaming.
Now, networks are changing again and 5G is set to land soon.
Some countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and the US are claiming they will launch 5G networks later this year or early next. However, in the UK rollout isn’t set to begin until late 2019 or 2020, according to the Government’s 5G strategy and statements from network operators.
Even then, that’s just when networks will start to roll out 5G, so we might not see widespread 5G coverage in the UK until 2022 or later.