Yes, you read that right. The official specifcation of 5G has been completed which means that 4G will soon be in old books.
It has been in development for awhile, but the 3GPP, the organization that governs cellular standards has officially signed off on the first specification for 5G (specifically, the 5G NR standard) at a meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.
5G is the fifth generation of cellular networking. It’s the next phenomenal innovation in mobile technology, which the future phones and tablets will use for data.
As expected, the finished 5G specification covers a wide range of spectrum, ranging from the 600 and 700 MHz bands to the millimeter wave portion of the spectrum at 50 GHz. Now that the standard has been agreed upon, the ball is firmly in the court of carriers and hardware companies to deliver, something that may still take a while to happen.
Still, having a formal goalpost to work towards is a hugely important part of the process, especially with companies like T-Mobile and Verizon already promising 5G networks to start rolling out in 2018 and 2019. And at the very least, the 5G NR standard is significantly in more progress than just having a logo.
There are some ideas of what we can expect. Companies like Verizon, AT&T, Intel, and Qualcomm are already spinning up tests for 5G technology, and it’s these early experiments that will likely shape what the formal international standard for 5G becomes. The main feature for 5G is the use of millimeter wave (mmWave) band transmission, which could be the key to unlocking the blazing-fast internet speeds that 5G promises.
Working off that model, we could see commercial 5G phones in the early 2020s, assuming the same “every 10 years” pattern as previous generations holds through. We should expect to see 5G in 2021, which is not so far away. Chances are, we’ll see some earlier deployments even sooner than that, if the network providers, modem manufacturers, and wireless carriers are able to live up to their early projected roadmaps. Qualcomm is planning to make its 5G products available to the public as soon as the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Like the jump from 3G to LTE, you will need a compatible phone to take advantage of 5G when it does roll around, but you’ve still got a few years to figure that out.