What is 5G? About the fifth-generation mobile network

Dive into the topic of 5G. What it is, why and how it is important for the defense sector.
  • Technology

As enterprise requirements grow in complexity, technological advances step in to simplify the situation. With internet connectivity being a critical mandate for any business process, regardless of the industry, there’s a growing need for increasing the speed, coverage, and bandwidth. While wired internet connectivity can offer scalability in speed and bandwidth, businesses that rely on cellular networks get limited with the speeds that 4G had to offer. Technological innovation offers the solution. Enter 5G.

What isi 5G?

Research suggests that as of April 2023, the United States has 5G in 503 cities while China has in 356 cities, following it. In the EU there has been a major coverage (27 countries) since 2021.  India also has one of the largest 5G networks in the world and is expanding. Some businesses are aware of only its great speed for better downloads! However, 5G holds a lot more in store!

Read on to delve into what 5G is, how it works, how it differs from 4G, its applications, its impact on the IT sector, and more.

What is 5G in simple terms?

In layman’s terms, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular wireless connection technology. It supersedes the previous connection versions, namely 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G, in terms of improved speed, increased bandwidth, and greater reliability. Based on cutting edge network technology, 5G is a form of wireless communication standard with much greater power and efficiency compared to its previous versions.

That being said,  5G is the most recent version of the mobile data that you use on a day to day basis, which offers capabilities for emerging bandwidth hungry applications and rewarding digital experiences by fostering greater possibilities for self-driving cars, videoconferencing, online games, and much more.

How does 5G technology work?

5G connectivity on a smartphone

5G technology is essentially a cellular network that uses radio frequencies to carry data through air like previous cellular networks but at far greater speeds and lower latencies. Considering its components like 5G New Radio, it offers a highly advanced global standard for a 5G wireless air interface. The antennas under this standard are based on the MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology. This facilitates the transfer of huge amounts of data across multiple transmitters and receivers at the same time.

That said, in addition to the new radio spectrum, 5G extends its capabilities to heterogeneous networks comprising multiple technologies, thereby increasing the bandwidth for users.

The features of 5G, which depend more on software than hardware, ensure advanced virtualization, business process automation, and widespread use of cloud-based technologies. 5G network architecture creates network slices, which allow the network administrators to control the extent of network functionality to users and their services.

Thanks to these advances in the latest generation of cellular wireless technology, which enables digital experiences through machine-learning automation. These help in reducing the response times considerably to a fraction of a second, fostering the automation of AI and deep learning as well. Furthermore, the low latency times allow real-time communication between end devices, opening up entirely new possibilities.

This holds a lot of significance for the IT industry, which uses sophisticated technologies to deliver business outcomes. The IT sector, which caters to analytics services, can tap the potential of 5G to analyze, interpret, and train ML models quickly and bring forth actionable insights.

What does 5G do?

5G, the new 5th generation wireless standard, holds tremendous opportunities for industries worldwide. Let’s delve into its core features to understand its plethora of capabilities.

Enables exceptional communication

5G, which is an enhancement over the previous generations of wireless, transmits data at extremely high speed. Besides faster downloads of data, it ensures the best digital connectivity not just between people but also communications across sensors, machines, and objects in the Internet of Things.

At transfer rates of 20Gbps, a 5G connection is much faster and more efficient than 4G, with reliability almost at par with wired data transfers.

As Andreas Mueller, a 5G expert at Bosch quotes,

“Faster, better, farther. Striving for more is human nature, but it doesn’t always become reality. With 5G, it’s different. 5G is a standard of superlatives.”

Helps businesses stay competitive

Research indicates that there will be nearly 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices worldwide by 2025, which is three times those in 2019. This suggests that the number of devices on the internet would be much more than the number of users. In the B2B space, IoT plays a significant role, which is augmented by this new communication standard of connectivity and automation engineered by 5G.

That said, it induces competition among businesses, compelling them to embrace this technology sooner in order to remain competitive.

Ensures the least time delay through low latency

With a very low latency of just 1 millisecond, a 5G connection paves the way for various useful innovations like autonomous vehicles. With its increased coverage, capacity, and low latency, 5G can remotely manage a fleet of vehicles, allowing them to make updates and receive responses in near real-time.

Is 5G really necessary?

Yes. Regardless of the industry, 5G will soon become a necessity if businesses have to scale. That said if we consider the military or defense realm, 5G is almost a mandate. In the growing age of global wars, nations must equip and empower themselves strategically and technologically.

This fifth-generation wireless cellular technology connection holds the potential to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), efficiently manage logistics, use virtual reality and augmented reality for training, and more. In addition, 5G holds the promise of instantly alerting about someone’s situation located anywhere on the Earth, access to crucial data on the battlefield, and the option of an unmanned airplane flying juxtaposed to a passenger aircraft.

These are just a handful of examples that showcase what 5G is capable of. However, to safeguard and secure their citizens, countries need to research and invest more in this technology, which is still in its infancy.

While this provides what this cellular technology can offer the military sector, it holds equally stellar opportunities for the IT industry. Due to its low latency, 5G provides an alternative for the IT sector to use a multitude of remotely managed applications. With human reaction times being much slower, these applications couldn’t perform to their utmost potential.

However, with 5G in place, the problem of slow response times will be tackled. Leveraging the power of 5G, IT companies can utilize their resources to innovate in areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence. In addition, IT services are required to cater to clients across industries and geographies.

The 5G technology, through its exceptional speed and efficient bandwidth, can promote hassle-free and gratifying customer experiences as virtual connectivity will cease to be a showstopper.

Understanding the difference between 4G and 5G

Apart from being the next version of 4G, there are other integral aspects/features that differentiate it from its predecessor.


On the speed parameter, 5G is capable of downloading 10 Gigabits per second, which is almost 100 times faster than its previous version. While 5G is still nascent, the speed it offers is much higher.

5g connectivity

It is this feature of the 5G connection that makes it a perfect alternative for delivering the high-speed networks needed for advanced gaming, autonomous driving, and other complex applications. However, the connectivity speed required for a use case depends purely on the purpose intended.

For example, live streaming a football match and managing a driverless car require different connection attributes regarding speed, latency, and security. To tackle the modern disruptive requirements, businesses need extremely high speeds supported only by 5G. Furthermore complex simulations can be sent to customers without difficulty, experts can support medical interventions by transmitting camera images in real-time, and entire cities can become smart cities.

Network Slicing

Network slicing is the primary feature that offers all the capabilities that make 5G a robust enhancement over other cellular technologies. Standalone 5G, which is cloud-based and virtual, has most of its network elements as software instead of hardware. This makes it possible for telecommunications to create network slices that enterprise private owners can tailor according to their requirements of security, capacity, encryption, and speed.

5G ensures that these customizations are implemented by letting the enterprises access and control the specific slice SIM. These slices are capable of being stored in any 5G SIM.


While speed is one aspect, equally significant is latency – the time delay between sending a message and the corresponding response. With an extremely low latency of just 1 millisecond, 5G is much more efficient in this metric as well, in contrast to 4G at 200 milliseconds. Such low latency makes 5G capable of offering exceptional services and opening the gateways to newer dimensions.

Focus on security and regulations

As 5G comes with possibilities for immense speed, it emphasizes enterprise owners and third-party vendors on security and compliance. For example, in the EU, the stakeholders will be impacted by the ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) that focuses on privacy and encryption of personal data.

It was initiated with the objective of working in tandem with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. However, the status of ePR is still to be decided.

Point apart, 5G offers its in-built security mechanism to service providers through 5G SIM. This ensures the sensitive data is stored in an encrypted form within a secure component.

How do I find out if I have 5G?

To find out if there’s 5G availability, users can check the “SIM & Networks” and the “Preferred Network” options on their handsets. Do note that users will need a device that supports 5G. If they can see the 5G option in the list of networks available, that implies it’s very much ready! The device may auto connect to 5G as well if there is sufficient signal and the device supports the 5G bands in the particular area.

While individuals who watch videos or live streaming online would certainly enjoy the 5G experience, businesses will also have various advantages. Especially for those who run cloud-based apps, use enterprise software, or need to connect with customers across the globe, 5G is a boon. Especially when away from offices and WiFi networks.

What are some interesting applications of 5G in the defense sector?

The common challenge that most countries are grappling to address in their military operations is connectivity. With the headquarters and other units geographically far apart, sending and receiving signals with the present 4G version is not very helpful.

The Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) feature of a 5G connection allows higher traffic bandwidth and high-speed data. This makes communication with voice and data connectivity easier across the HQ and other subnodes.

Yet another key issue that the defense sector faces is the time delay in response. With 5G’s Ultra-reliable low latency framework (UrLLC), the transfer of messages in emergency situations between command posts, Joint Operation Centers, special operation forces, and such becomes easier and faster.

Finally, most importantly, real-time connectivity is crucial. Thanks to 5G’s Mass Machine Type communication (mMTC), which offers near-real-time connectivity with IoT devices. This opens the doors to autonomous vehicles, robotics, and other game-changers in the military scenario. Countries like the US, China, and the European Union (EU) are already investigating these emerging technologies to turn themselves invincible when it comes to defense.

How can 5G create an impact on the IT sector?

IT sector

5G will influence the IT industry in more than one way. For IT services, 5G will provide ample potential to serve the needs of their diverse customers in an exceptional manner. The excellent connectivity of 5G will enable IT consultants to interact with geographically separated clients in an uninterrupted mode.

In addition, IT companies could offer improved services in analytics, machine learning, and deep learning by tapping the power of 5G’s low latency.

Another side of the 5G advancement that will impact the IT industry is the need for new skill sets. As the technology requires niche expertise, it will create a demand for professionals skilled in IoT development, cloud, cybersecurity, data analytics, and more.

Besides, it would lead to new job roles like data scientists, connectivity experts, and IoT specialists. As more devices get connected over the internet, the probability of data breaches and cyber threats would increase, in turn resulting in the demand for cybersecurity experts.

As 5G technology evolves, the IT industry will encounter more opportunities to innovate while experiencing a major change in the job role and skill set landscape.

Final thoughts

The 5th generation of mobile networking is still evolving and requires considerable effort, expertise, and investment to reach its full throttle. While it holds the power to transform all industries, the military sector and IT industry have a lot to leverage.

The emergence of 5G technology will also pave the way for newer job roles and skill sets that focus on the expertise needed to innovate further.

At present, the countries US and China are forerunners in embracing the 5G technology. Europe is equally enthusiastic and proactive, with nearly 27 nations actively taking up initiatives in this regard.

While 5G will certainly be a game-changer for businesses worldwide, the extent of its optimum utilization towards carving a productive future remains to be seen.