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Definition: 5G


(1) (5th Generation) The fifth version of a product or system. For example, the Video iPod was the 5th iPod model, sometimes called "5G iPod."

(2) (5 GHz Wi-Fi band) After the turn of the century, 5G became widespread after version 802.11a of Wi-Fi debuted. For details, see 5 GHz band.

(3) (5th Generation cellular) 5G is the fifth generation of cellular service, superseding but compatible with 4G LTE. Governed by the 3GPP, 5G increases transmission speed dramatically and embraces prioritization. As video calling and video streaming increase exponentially, real-time content must be given a higher priority than Web pages.

A potential business disrupter, 5G is intended not only for mobile phones, but for in-home Internet access, especially in rural communities where new cable and fiber installations are costly.

Frequencies, Small Cells and Micro Towers
5G operates in a variety of frequency bands from as low as 600 MHz to as high as 71 GHz. Because high frequencies do not propagate as well as low frequencies, the higher 5G frequency deployments require many "small cells" with "micro towers" mounted on telephone poles. See 5G frequency bands and 5G radiation.

5G NR (5G New Radio)
The 5G air interface, which like 4G also uses OFDM modulation, was designed to deliver data rates up to 20 Gbps, enabling individual users to get gigabit-per-second downloads over the air. Qualcomm was the first manufacturer to release a 5G radio chip, and in late 2018, Verizon was the first carrier to deploy in-home 5G, and 5G phones emerged in 2019. See OFDM.

It Will Take a While
5G is also expected to provide a huge boost for connecting billions of IoT devices (see Internet of Things). In addition, 5G may make wireless virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) commonplace. However, nationwide in-home and mobile service should take several more years. See virtual reality and augmented reality.

5G, 4G and Wi-Fi
5G is compatible with 4G cellular and Wi-Fi, offering a seamless experience for users no matter where they are. In addition, like Wi-Fi, 5G was designed to operate in unlicensed spectrum, which greatly broadens its utility. See cellular generations, millimeter wave and 6Genesis.