What is 5G?

5G Explained

5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular networks. Made up of high-frequency radio waves, 5G officially launched in 2019 and has been deployed across numerous countries, providing their citizens with high-speed wireless services. 


Compared to the previous mobile generations, 5G offers incredibly high upload and download speeds, extraordinary low latencies, increased network capacities, and higher bandwidth. Whether you’re a general cell phone user, or a multi-national corporation, 5G is here to revolutionize the way you live and work.   



How does the 5G Network Work?

The number of radio frequencies coming from 5G infrastructure such as towers and cells needs to increase to provide such high speeds. This is why 5G operates at a higher frequency, between 30 GHz to 100 GHz, compared to 4G, which operates at about 6 GHz. However, due to the higher frequency, 5G’s range and penetrability are drastically reduced.

Want to learn more about 5G frequencies and the safety standards behind them? Take a peek at our article 5G in Canada: Is there a Health Concern?

How does the 5G Network Work?

To increase the range, 5G works with existing 4G infrastructures and networks using various macrocells, small cells, and in-building systems. 

Macrocells are large antennas that use MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology to send and receive radio signals simultaneously. Macrocells provide low-frequency coverage to a wide radius – a few miles long. 5G end-user equipment such as mobile phones also have MIMO tech built into it for the higher frequencies being sent and received. 

At the same time, small cells and in-building systems transmit high-frequency radio signals in small, specific areas. This is what provides users with 5G’s high-speed services and low latencies. If you look closely, you may soon see these small cells placed in your local area.

5G’s Features

Download Speeds

Being implemented across Canada, 5G’s median download speed is about 170 Mbps. Meanwhile, 4G’s median download speed in Canada is 55.5 Mbps. That’s a 205% increase. If you wanted to download a two-hour HD movie off Netflix (about 6GB in size) on your phone with 4G, it would take roughly 40 minutes. With 5G, it would take under five.

Network Capacity

With the Internet of Things (IoT) transforming the market for both consumers and businesses, 5G’s network capacity provides us with a crucial advantage – the ability to connect more devices. Compared to 4G’s network capacity, 5G currently offers 100 times more traffic support. But it’s expected that 5G will provide much more capacity in the future, enabling the automation and digitization needed for the ideas behind smart cities and driverless cars.


Have you ever suffered from lags when playing online video games? Coming from multiple factors such as speeds, bandwidth, and the size of data transmitted, this is called latency. Latency is the time it takes for data to travel from one place to another. Having low latency is extremely important for online gamers as the added fractions of a millisecond count. But what does low latency mean for the rest of us? Low latency is a requirement for massive IoT to work. Smart cities, automated cars, virtual reality, and heavy artificial intelligence need extremely low latencies. With latencies faster than the blink of an eye at one millisecond, 5G allows many new technologies to launch worldwide.


Increased bandwidth is another critical factor that 5G provides. In short terms, bandwidth means the maximum amount of room that data can transfer. Think of bandwidth as a pipe with water going through it. If the pipe (bandwidth) is large, more water (data) will go through it. The larger the bandwidth, the better, and 5G has massive bandwidth. 5G’s bandwidth sits at frequencies between 30 GHz to 100 GHz compared to 4G, which operates at about 6 GHz.

Network Slicing

5G enabled network slicing allows end-users to slice a single physical network into multiple virtual networks. Splitting the 5G network allows users to tailor speed, capacity, coverage, encryption, security and use cases by reassigning resources from one slice to the next. Network slicing improves the overall efficiency of your network as services are prioritized with different sizes of slices customized to your preference.

5G vs 4G: What’s The Difference?

What’s the Difference Between all the Gs? 

It’s been over 40 years since the introduction of 1G in 1979, and a lot has changed since. With each new generation adding to the last, new communication methods are introduced, including speaking over a wireless network to high-quality video calls or even texting. 

Although each network focused on improving telecommunication, each one has used different technologies to do so and provided different outcomes. 

What's the Difference Between all the G's?

For more info: Timeline from 1G to 5G a Brief History on Cell Phones

The Future with 5G and IoT Technologies



5G is more than just high-speed internet access and online streaming with your smartphone. Although we don’t quite know how it will look yet, 5G will change the way we live, work and communicate with technology. Because of 5G’s reduced latency and high-speed access, we’ll soon see the massive rollout of IoT devices for use on the 5G network. Whether it’ll be smart cars that will drive us to work, or UAV drones measuring crop life over farmers’ fields, we’re going to see massive changes over the next ten years with 5G and IoT devices. 

How Our Healthcare System Grows with 5G

5G is an opportunity to upgrade our healthcare system into something more reliable, accessible, and convenient for healthcare professionals and the patients who rely on them.

As today’s new healthcare technologies continue to pass 4G’s networking capabilities, 5G is here to support. It’s fast speeds, reduced latency, and more extensive network capacity will support the latest technologies to improve our healthcare industry.


6 Ways 5G is Improving Our Healthcare System

Addressing Climate Change and Becoming Environmentally Friendly with 5G

There are a limited number of resources, and we need to use them efficiently. Whether turning off the lights when we aren’t in a room or reducing the amount of water we need to optimize crop outputs, 5G’s network acts as a backbone for environmentally friendly technologies.

And it’s with these new technologies we can manage our resources, whether it’s traffic, food production, or conserving energy.

5G Climate Change: 4 Ways 5G is Helping the Environment

5G vs Wi-Fi 6

Wireless connectivity is advancing rapidly, and both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G entered the market in recent years, but this leaves some unanswered questions. What makes these technologies differ from each other? What does the future of connectivity require?


If we have 5G, will we need Wi-Fi?

5G vs Wi-Fi 6: The Future of Internet Connectivity

Smart City Development (with the help of 5G and IoT)

As humans become more urbanized, cities are taking advantage of today’s new networking technologies to develop a connected urban environment for citizens.


Without 5G and the technologies that take advantage of it, smart cities wouldn’t be possible.

The Smart Cities of Tomorrow Enabled by 5G and IoT

How CENGN Connects to 5G Innovation

Working with innovative tech businesses, CENGN enables the development of Canada’s 5G ecosystem.

CENGN helps Canada’s start-ups and scale-ups get their solutions market-ready. Whether these companies work directly to improve 5G networks or create IoT solutions to be deployed on the network, it all plays a part in advancing ICT innovation and economic development in Canada.

View CENGN's Commercialization Projects

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