What is 5G Technology?

| Updated
by Marco T. Lanz · 7 min read
What is 5G Technology?
Photo: Depositphotos

In this guide, we will explore what 5G is, how this technology works, and how it differs from previous generations like 4G. Additionally, we will examine the key benefits it offers and explore some transformative use cases that this disruptive technology enables across various sectors.

5G represents a revolutionary advancement in mobile telecommunications networks, offering numerous benefits such as unprecedented data speeds, lower latency, increased capacity, and reliability. 5G technology has the potential to open up a world of possibilities for immersive experiences, industrial automation, autonomous vehicles, remote healthcare, and more.

In this guide, we will explore what 5G is, how this technology works, and how it differs from previous generations like 4G. Additionally, we will examine the key benefits it offers and explore some transformative use cases that this disruptive technology enables across various sectors.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless mobile networks. It was designed to expand and support the mobile ecosystem, improving network capacity, density of connected devices, and service reliability.

Furthermore, 5G operates at higher frequencies than previous generations, allowing it to transmit much more data with lower latency. Its infrastructure utilizes advanced software-based network architectures to achieve flexibility, scalability, and efficiency.

5G technology was developed and standardized by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), the same organization that created specifications for the 3G and 4G generations. Members of 3GPP, including operators and technology providers, extensively worked on the research and development of 5G over the past decade.

How 5G Technology Works

5G technology uses millimeter-wave spectrum, ranging from 30 to 300 GHz, with shorter wavelengths that enable much wider bandwidths. This gives it the capability to achieve peak speeds of 20 Gbps. It also employs techniques like massive MIMO, beamforming, and advanced modulation to enhance network capabilities.

Let us have a deeper look at three different spectrum bands for 5G operation:

  • Low-band spectrum. Another name for this is the sub-1GHz spectrum. For carriers in the US, this is their primary band and because of that, it is almost depleted. The low-band spectrum is the best option when it comes to wall penetration and covering large areas. However, it is disadvantaged in the aspect of peak data speed, with its maximum request of 100Mbps.
  • Mid-band spectrum. This is faster compared to low-band. Its drawback is in the aspect of building penetration which isn’t as good as the low-band spectrum. Its peak speeds can reach 1Gbps.
  • High-band spectrum. This holds the promise of the highest performance for 5G, but its weaknesses are profound. It is also known as mmWave. Its peak speeds can be as high as 10Gbps but with very low latency. Its major disadvantage is low building penetration and low coverage area.

The 5G network architecture is software-based, allowing for flexibility and continuous updates. For instance, network slicing enables operators to create customized virtual networks for specific use cases.

Similarly, the 5G network architecture uses a combination of small cells and macrocells to provide coverage and capacity. Small cells, such as microcells, picocells, and femtocells, are deployed in high-density user or traffic areas to increase capacity.

This more disaggregated cellular structure allows for more efficient frequency reuse, leveraging different cell sizes in the same area. For example, microcells operate in the same frequency bands as macrocells but with lower power. The combination of both cell types helps meet the growing demand for mobile traffic, especially in densely populated areas.

5G vs. Previous Generations

Before diving into details on how 5G has improved over its predecessors, let’s briefly explain the history behind this technology.

The first generation (1G) emerged in the 1980s and introduced analog mobile communications, offering only voice services. It suffered a lot of problems such as poor voice quality, weak battery life, and occasional dropped calls. Its maximum speed reached 2.4 Kbps. The second generation (2G) arrived in the early 1990s, transitioning to digital mobile telephony, adding features like SMS text messages and limited data transmission. In the early 2000s, the third generation (3G) allowed mobile download speeds of up to 2 Mbps, along with voice-over IP calls. This network was an integration of higher technology and some aspects of 2G to make the data rate faster. As more tech advancements were made on 3G, it soon evolved into 3.5G and 3.75G, thereby paving the way to the 4G network. The fourth generation (4G) was launched in 2010 with entirely IP-based technology, reaching peak download speeds of up to 1 Gbps. The 4G network had two fractional parts, 4.5G and 4.9G.

Now, with 5G, a new era of ultra-fast and highly reliable mobile connectivity has begun. It achieves peak speeds that are 10 to 100 times higher than 4G, surpassing 20 Gbps. It also dramatically reduces latency to less than 1 millisecond, compared to the 40-70 milliseconds of 4G. This enables real-time responses for critical applications.

Furthermore, as explained earlier, thanks to infrastructure improvements, its area capacity has expanded by about 100 times, supporting 1 million connected devices per square kilometer.

Therefore, one could say that each generation up to 5G has progressively increased the capabilities of mobile networks. However, 5G is not just an evolution but a true revolution in terms of performance, efficiency, flexibility, and intelligence.

5G Benefits

The key benefits provided by 5G are numerous and represent a revolutionary advancement compared to previous generations of mobile connectivity:

  • Exceptional download speeds, up to 20 Gbps. This allows for the instant download of ultra-high-definition content and the enjoyment of immersive experiences.
  • Extremely low latency, below 1 millisecond. Communication happens in real time, enabling new applications that require an instant response.
  • Device density is 100 times greater. Sensors, household devices, industrial equipment, vehicles, and more can simultaneously connect, driving the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • A more seamless user experience. The network delivers the necessary bandwidth and capacity while adapting to the user’s location and movement.
  • A flexible platform for innovation. Features like network slicing enable the creation of tailor-made digital services that can foster user creativity.

Use Cases of 5G

5G enables new transformative applications in various industries:

  • Immersive virtual and augmented reality. 5G enables much more advanced and immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences thanks to its high speeds, low latency, and increased capacity. For example, VR headsets and glasses are lighter and more comfortable as they require less local processing.
  • Remote Surgery and medical examinations. Doctors can perform remote surgeries and other complex procedures thanks to the ultra-low latency of 5G. Similarly, they can conduct remote consultations and medical examinations with real-time interaction, without delays in communication as seen in previous generations.
  • Industrial automation and smart factories. 5G facilitates the adoption of technologies such as cloud-based machine control, augmented reality for workers, live video analysis, high-speed decision-making, and industrial IoT. This can help companies become more efficient, secure, and optimized.
  • Autonomous vehicles and intelligent transportation. The low-latency connectivity of 5G has been a key tool in facilitating the coordination of autonomous vehicles, improving road infrastructure safely and efficiently. It is expected to help enhance other transportation systems in the future, such as trains and traffic management.
  • Smart connected energy and utilities. 5G drives large-scale IoT applications, such as smart electrical, gas, and water networks, enabling real-time monitoring and automation of services to enhance their efficiency.
  • Precision agriculture. 5G makes it easier to implement technology for monitoring crops, soil, and climate, enabling optimized, sustainable, and efficient agriculture.


5G marks a new chapter in mobile telecommunications, laying the groundwork for faster, more reliable, and highly efficient digital experiences. It is also transforming connectivity in homes, businesses, healthcare, manufacturing, vehicles, and more. Its arrival has not only driven technological innovation but has also helped create new tools and services that are likely to have a significant social and economic impact in the coming years.



What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless mobile networks. It was designed to enhance and support the mobile ecosystem in aspects such as network capacity, the density of connected devices, and service reliability.

How does 5G work?

5G technology uses a millimeter-wave spectrum, allowing for wider bandwidths and peak speeds of 20 Gbps. It also employs techniques like massive MIMO and beamforming to boost network capabilities. Its flexible architecture enables network slicing and continuous updates.

How fast is 5G?

5G is designed to achieve peak speeds of up to 20 Gbps. This is 10 to 100 times faster than 4G networks.

How is 5G better than 4G?

5G offers much higher speeds than 4G, with peaks reaching over 20 Gbps. It also has lower latency, 1 ms compared to 40-70 ms in 4G. Additionally, it has greater capacity, supporting up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometer.

What are the benefits of 5G?

The key benefits of 5G include ultra-high speed, low latency, increased reliability and availability, 100 times greater device density, and a consistent user experience.

How will 5G change the future of technology?

5G will enable new applications such as immersive virtual reality, remote surgery, smart factories, autonomous vehicles, industrial IoT automation, interactive entertainment, and real-time monitoring of supply chains.

How to Invest in Commodities? September 25th, 2023

In this guide, we will delve into what commodities are, the reasons to invest in them, their risks and advantages, and the most po...