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There’s a lot to look forward to with 5G technology, like 20Mbps downloads

Why it matters to you

Sure, you know that 5G is supposed to be better than 4G. But how much better? Now we have a sense.

We’ve been hearing a lot as of late about 5G technology and its upcoming tests in the U.K., U.S., and beyond. But what exactly does all of it mean? Sure, we know that it’ll be a step above 4G, but now we have a better sense of just how much better the network of the future will be. According to new guidelines released by the International Telcommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, a single 5G cell must have a download capacity of no fewer than 20Gbps. For comparison, the peak rate for today’s LTE cells stands at about 1Gbps. So get excited, friends. The 5G future is looking supremely fast.

As per the ITU’s draft report released earlier this week, the 5G standard will need to support up to a million connected devices in a square kilometer, and carriers must have at least 100Mhz of free spectrum, and where possible, up to 1Ghz. This will allow for the continuing proliferation of the Internet of Things — after all, as more and more of our devices become connected, we’re going to need more bandwidth to support all that functionality.

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The draft 5G specs also specify how base stations will need to support networks in different environments. That means that whether you’re on a train, in the middle of a city, or out in the country, you ought to be able to access your network. Moreover, the ITU calls for 5G to be quit energy efficient. For example, when their radio interfaces are not in use, they ought to downgrade into low energy mode almost immediately. In fact, a 5G radio ought to adjust from full-speed to battery-efficient statuses in just 10ms.

While these specifications are currently only in draft form, it seems as though we’ll have a final version by November. By then, service providers will be seriously working on building out 5G capabilities, so hopefully, we’ll be able to enjoy all these benefits sooner rather than later.