5G is short for the “fifth generation” of wireless networks, the latest form of connectivity that is needed to cope with the explosion in the number of mobile devices.
Until now, Canadian wireless companies have used 4G networks (also known as LTE or “long-term evolution”) which supported fast downloads and easy streaming of content. But billions of new connected devices are due to come online, transmitting significantly more data – so speeds and bandwidth capacity both need to be much higher, and “latency” (the time it takes to send a signal from one point to the next) must be much lower.
5G does this by using new spectrum frequencies – i.e. the radio waves that carry cellular signals through the air. Telecom companies have spent billions to build new infrastructure to help their networks access those frequencies more reliably.