What is 5G?

Verizon 5G Logo

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. But users will know it as one of the fastest, most robust technologies the world has ever seen. That means quicker downloads, a more powerful network and a massive impact on how we live, work and play. The connectivity benefits of 5G will make business more efficient and give consumers access to more information faster than ever before. Autonomous cars, smart communities, industrial IoT, immersive education—they will all rely on 5G.


"5G has the potential to join a very exclusive club―the handful of technologies throughout history that transform industries across every sector of the economy ... redefining work, elevating living standards, and having a profound and sustained impact on our global economic growth."

Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President and Group President, Verizon Wireless


Intro - FAQs


Though not yet widely deployed, Verizon is working tirelessly to bring 5G to a city near you. But what, exactly, is 5G? How will it work? How fast is it really? And how will it change your life? We answer those questions, and more, below. 

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What’s the technology behind 5G?

To understand 5G, it’s helpful to understand what came before it. Broadly, the first generation of mobile technology, 1G, was about voice. The ability to use a phone in a car, or anywhere else, really took root here. The advent of 2G introduced a short-messaging layer—pieces of which can still be seen in today’s texting features. The move to 3G provided the essential network speeds for smartphones. And 4G, with its blazing data-transfer rates, gave rise to many of the connected devices and services that we rely on and enjoy today.

A discussion around 5G technology is really a discussion around delivering life-changing technologies through next-generation networks. Verizon's Ultra-Wide Band 5G network will allow up to 100 times better throughput, 10 times longer battery life and 1,000 times larger data volumes, all while being 10 times more reliable. We are the only company with the engineering experience, fiber assets, wireless millimeter wave spectrum and partnerships to scale the transfer of massive amounts of data at unimaginable speeds.

This is all predicated on work we began years ago to “densify” our 4G LTE network in high population areas with small cell sites. And thanks to Verizon's world-class engineers, we've laid the groundwork that will transform the network and push the limits of 5G's potential faster and more efficiently.

Verizon's Ultra-Wide Band 5G has the greatest potential to revolutionize industries, and provide the most immediate impact for customers. In 2017 and early 2018, we conducted field trials in 11 markets nationwide—among them Ann Arbor, MI, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston—and they exceeded our expectations for how the technology would perform.

Bottom line: Much of the pre-positioning for our 5G network launch is already in place, including access to the radio waves, fiber and small cells—all of which will make the installation of 5G network equipment faster, and bring next-generation technology to customers sooner.

When and where will 5G be available?

Verizon will be first to market in the U.S. with both fixed and mobile versions of 5G technology. We are taking a progressive approach to rolling out 5G, beginning with super-fast broadband service in four markets in 2018, and will follow that with mobile 5G service, with plans to expand deployments in 2019 and beyond.


The cornerstone of our strategy is to provide our customers with the best network experience. That strategy has served us well, and has led the competition to play catch-up. 5G is no different.

Nicki Palmer, Chief Network Officer, Verizon Wireless


We remain on track to deliver on our 5G residential broadband deployment plans. The ecosystem is developing quickly and we’re working with partners and start-ups to discover new use cases for the technology.


How fast will 5G be?

5G will provide more speed, data transfer rates many times faster than a blink of an eye, massive bandwidth and greater opportunities for connectivity and reliability. One way to quantify the difference is in terms of download speeds.

In our 5G trials, we achieved download speeds roughly 30-50 times faster than what is possible with 4G. Data moves so quickly on 5G that Ronan Dunne, our executive vice president and group vice president, has argued:

5G isn’t just another iteration of wireless innovation,” he says. “Just as the next generation of the television industry reinvented content based on the unique properties of the medium itself, the potential of the fifth generation of wireless technology demands that we fundamentally rethink what can be done on a wireless platform.”

Thanks to its combination of greater data transfer speeds and heightened processing power, 5G will enable even more technology to connect, leading the Internet of Things to be deployed on a truly massive scale. Today, there are some 8.4 billion connected “things” in use—up 31% from 2016. With 5G, that number will grow to more than 20.4 billion by 2020.

Latency will be dramatically lowered. On 4G, latency was cut in half from 3G, with response times of 15 and 60 milliseconds, versus 120 milliseconds on 3G. On Verizon's Ultra-Wide Band 5G network, latency could drop to just 1 millisecond or less, which would make lag times nearly impossible to detect.

What will 5G be used for?

A more appropriate question might be, “What couldn’t 5G be used for?” Rich, complex information will be freed to move at scarcely imaginable speeds. Those speeds, combined with lowered latency, will have far-reaching effects on every sector of the economy.

AR and VR applications can work seamlessly. Industrial machinery and robotics can be controlled remotely. Feature-length HD movies can be downloaded faster than you can read this sentence.


By 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide. Much of that growth will come from the digitization of transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and other physical industries.

Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President and Group President, Verizon Wireless


In a 5G-powered tomorrow, entire supply chains can be fundamentally reshaped. With its gigabit speeds and unprecedented response times, 5G can be thought of as the “secret sauce” that will make driverless cars, cloud-connected traffic control and other applications that depend on instantaneous response and data analysis live up to their potential. The possibilities are limitless.


Our work on 5G

At Verizon, we don’t wait for the future. We build it. That’s why we built our own 5G technology to accelerate testing and drive the development of the worldwide 3GPP 5G standard. And we continue to work with our other technology partners to further advance 5G technology and reach important milestones on the path to full deployment, in the lab and, most importantly, in the real world where it matters most.