Superfast fifth-generation, or 5G, mobile internet services are already on offer. It is not in Nigeria yet and not all smartphones have the connectivity as yet. But that will change soon. So what difference will 5G make in our lives?

5G is the next generation of mobile internet connection and offers much faster data download and upload speeds. Through greater use of the radio spectrum, it will allow for more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time. With 5G, we will be able to do whatever we do now with our smartphones, faster and better.

How does it work? It is a new radio technology, but you might not notice vastly higher speeds at first because 5G is likely to be used by network operators initially as a way to boost capacity on existing 4G core networks, to ensure a more consistent service for customers. The speed you get will depend on which spectrum band the operator runs the 5G technology on and how much your carrier has invested in new masts and transmitters.

So, we may see clusters of smaller phone masts closer to the ground transmitting so-called “millimeter waves” between much higher numbers of transmitters and receivers. This will enable a higher density of usage. But it is expensive and companies could face challenges deploying lots of new masts.

So how fast could it be? The fastest current 4G mobile networks offer about 45Mbps (megabits per second) on average, although the industry is still hopeful of achieving 1Gbps (gigabit per second = 1,000Mbps)

5G could achieve browsing and download speeds about 10 to 20 times faster in real-world (as opposed to laboratory) conditions. That would allow you to download a high-definition movie in a minute or so.

The big improvement in speed and latency will come when service providers roll out standalone 5G networks, where both the core and radio networks use 5G tech. They could easily achieve gigabit-plus browsing speeds as standard.

The world is going mobile and we are consuming more data every year, particularly as the popularity of video and music streaming increases. Existing spectrum bands are becoming congested, leading to breakdowns in service, particularly when lots of people in the same area are trying to access online mobile services at the same time.

5G is much better at handling thousands of devices simultaneously, from mobiles to equipment sensors, video cameras to smart street lights.

Will you need a new phone? Yes. But when 4G was introduced in 2009-10, compatible smartphones came onto the market before the infrastructure had been rolled out fully, leading to some frustration amongst consumers who felt they were paying more in subscriptions for a patchy service.

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