You’re going to hear a lot about so-called “5G” technology in the next year or two, as wireless carriers, phone makers, and mobile chip designers start rolling out new products designed to offer faster, more reliable mobile data connections than 4G LTE.

But what exactly is 5G?

According to new guidelines from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in order to qualify, next-gen networks need to offer maximum download speeds of at least 20 Gbps and upload speeds of 10 Gbps.

Of course, users almost never actually get the theoretical maximum. Current-gen LTE networks offer speeds up to 1 Gbps, but you’ve probably never downloaded content that quickly on your smartphone.

So the guidelines also spells out requirements for real-world usage. A network must offer “target values” of 100 Mbps downloads and 50 Mbps uploads.

Those are actually the kinds of speeds you might be able to get from some existing 4G networks on a good day… but effectively today’s top speeds will be tomorrow’s baseline.

And when I say tomorrow, I mean, probably sometime by 2020. That’s when the ITU report sees the new tech being widely adopted.

Other details in the report include maximum latency of 4ms, support for at least a million connected devices per square kilometer, and new requirements for energy efficiency.

via Ars Technica

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6 replies on “United Nations defines 5G: At least 20 Gbps max downloads (and 100 Mbps average)”

  1. I hope its a good thing that the UN is putting their stamp on the standardization. The standards for “4G” were terribly enforced, and nobody followed it.

    4G was supposed to be 1gbps peak in stationary-use, and 100mbps in moving applications.

    In 2010, a bunch of networks launched “Beyond-3G” services, and started calling them “4G”, even though their speeds didn’t even come close to the definition of 4G. The tech-consortium that was responsible for the standardization decided they would allow it, as long as those networks were using technology that was “a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed”.

    7 years have passed, and 4G is still not even approaching its initial standard. LTE-Advanced has superseded LTE, and most networks haven’t implemented speeds beyond 200-400mbps.

    I feel that was a terrible way to handle it: let companies break the rules, and they respond by lowering your standards. Hopefully 5G will be handled better.

    Does anyone else find it funny that we haven’t even reached the goals of 4G, and theyre already talking about 5G?

    1. Where I live, I feel really happy when I get 8 mbps. Most of the time, I only get 500kbps-1mbps on the “4G” subscription from the telecom company I am subscribed to. And you are capped to 3 gb per day.

      1. I’m on Rogers in Canada. In peak conditions, their LTE has decent speeds (50-90mbps), however their coverage is terrible. I fail to get above 5mbps indoors anywhere, and my neighbourhood has more deadzones than working areas. I know of 2 or 3 locations that I can get peak speeds.

        They make all sorts of claims about how they support LTE Advanced @ 225mbps (using band aggregation), but they will never tell you what cities have what support.

        I’m probably going to switch providers soon. The entire south half of my city has been a dead-zone for several years.

  2. Yeah! Let’s burn through our monthly data caps in 25 seconds instead of 10 minutes. Long live the progress!

  3. This. And I have a 500MB data plan for the fair price of two limbs and the blood of my firstborn son.

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