What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular technology, offering higher upload and download speeds, more consistent connections, and improved capacity than previous networks. 5G is much faster and more reliable than the currently popular 4G networks and has the potential to transform the way we use the internet to access applications, social networks, and information. For example, technologies like self-driving cars, advanced gaming applications, and live streaming media that require very reliable, high-speed data connections are set to benefit greatly from 5G connectivity.

Why is 5G important?

The demand for internet access, combined with the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation, is driving a massive increase in the amount of data created. Data creation is growing exponentially, with volumes set to increase by several hundred zettabytes over the coming decade. The current mobile infrastructure was not designed for such a high information load and requires upgrading. 

At the same time, with its high speed, massive capacity, and low latency, 5G could help to support and scale several applications like cloud-connected traffic control, drone delivery, video chatting, and console-quality gaming on the go. From global payments and emergency response to distance education and mobile workforce, the benefits and applications of 5G are limitless. It has the potential to transform the world of work, the global economy, and people's lives.

How will 5G benefit businesses?

The capabilities of 5G can support innovation and improved customer experiences for business. Here are some areas to look out for. 

Autonomous mobility solutions

Previously, fully autonomous cars have not been considered viable because of the length of time it takes for a vehicle to send and receive information. However, the low latency of 5G means we could see self-driving cars become more commonplace, with roads connected with transmitters and sensors that send and receive information to vehicles in 1/1,000 of a second. The reduced time is critical for AI and radar technology to interpret what they see (other cars, pedestrians, stop signs) and control the car accordingly. 

Smart factories

5G mobile networks are an opportunity for manufacturers to create hyper-connected smart factories. 5G supports the Internet of Things, meaning factories can wirelessly connect several thousands of smart devices like cameras and sensors to automatically collect data in real-time. The factories can analyze and process this data to make operations more efficient and cost-effective. For example, smart sensor technology can make accurate predictions about equipment lifecycles, inform planning decisions, and predict when machines need maintenance.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality technology (VR/AR) allows mobile phones, headsets, smart glasses, and other connected devices to add digital overlays to live views. VR/AR has a host of use cases including guided maintenance, repairs, operations in industrial facilities, workplace training, sales and marketing, and real-time collaboration. The low latency and high bandwidth of 5G mobile technology will make VR/AR accessible to more businesses and use cases.

Edge computing

Edge computing is the process of delivering data storage and analysis capabilities closer to your endpoints. You can build high-performance applications that can process and store data close to where it is generated, enabling ultra-low latency, intelligent, and real-time responsiveness. With the ever-increasing quality of edge computing use cases and data requirements, a high-speed network is necessary to satisfy the need for near real-time responsiveness. As such, 5G network infrastructure supports and enables the increasing complexity and specialization of edge computing.

How could 5G benefit society?

The growth of 5G networks is predicted to create trillions of dollars in economic value and millions of jobs, but there are also many areas where it could benefit society. 

Smart cities

Smart cities rely on IoT devices to collect data from traffic, people, and infrastructure in real-time. By analyzing that data, city planners make better informed decisions, cut emissions, improve public services, cut traffic, and improve air quality. The emergence of 5G could be the catalyst for the world's major cities to become truly connected. 


5G networks can add great value to healthcare technology. For example, the low latency will allow real-time information to be shared over HD video, potentially making remote surgery more commonplace. Wearables and ingestibles are also predicted to become more common and provide healthcare professionals with feedback data. Real-time monitoring will result in increasingly personalized healthcare for patients and help doctors spot signs of disease earlier.


There is the potential for 5G to help reduce global emissions. One of the benefits of 5G is the efficiency of transmissions and the low power it uses compared with previous networks. It will also support real-time monitoring of emissions, air quality, water quality, and other environmental indicators. 5G will also help drive electric vehicle development, smart building, smart grid projects, and remote work, all of which will benefit the planet through efficient resource usage and reduced pollution. 

How does 5G technology work?

As with previous cellular networks, 5G technology uses cell sites that transmit data through radio waves. Cell sites connect to networks with wireless technology or wired connection. 5G technology works by modifying how data is encoded, significantly increasing the number of usable airwaves for carriers. 


Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) is an essential part of 5G technology. OFDM is a modulation format that encodes high-band airwaves incompatible with 4G and offers lower latency and improved flexibility compared with LTE networks.

Smaller towers

5G technology also uses smaller transmitters placed on buildings and other infrastructure. 4G and previous cellular technology relied on standalone mobile towers. The ability to run the network from small cell sites will support many devices at superior speeds. 

Network slicing

Mobile network operators use 5G technology to deploy multiple independent virtual networks over the same infrastructure. You can customize each network slice for different services and business cases, such as streaming services or enterprise tasks. By forming a collection of 5G network functions for each specific use case or business model, you can support different requirements from all vertical industries. The service separation means users benefit from a more reliable experience and improved efficiency on their devices. 


What is the difference between 5G and 4G/3G?

While 5G runs on the same radio frequencies as previous generations, there are several key differences between 5G and 4G, 4G LTE, and 3G. They include: 

Faster speeds

5G networks can achieve speeds of 10 gigabits a second, making them 10 times faster than 4G networks. It means that previously intensive tasks, such as downloading a film or backing up a database, will now take a fraction of the time they once did. 

Low latency

A key reason for the leap in speed is low latency. Latency is the delay between sending and receiving information. 4G networks could achieve a latency of around 200 milliseconds. That reduces to one millisecond with 5G. 

Higher bandwidth

5G can run on a broader range of bandwidths (low band, mid band, high band) by expanding radio spectrum resources, from sub-3 GHz used in 4G to 100 GHz and beyond. 5G can operate in both lower bands and mmWave, substantially increasing capacity, multi-Gbps throughput, and low latency. This bandwidth means more devices can be connected to send and receive data at any one time.

What are AWS 5G projects?

AWS is working with a number of enterprises on 5G projects. They include:


Verizon is the first company in the world to launch a commercial 5G mobile network with a commercially available 5G-enabled smartphone. It has used AWS cloud services to support its 5G rollout, taking advantage of large-scale compute capabilities to reduce time and cost spent.


Ericsson is one of the leading providers of information and communication technology to service providers. As 5G network capabilities entered the market and low-latency communication emerged, Ericsson needed to take those benefits to the edge to deliver high-value use cases for its enterprise customers. The company uses AWS Outposts, a family of fully managed solutions offering AWS services, tools, and infrastructure at any site, with its own 5G core to deliver computational capability directly to customers' enterprises.


AWS and DISH are collaborating to build the US Telecom Industry’s first fully cloud-native 5G Network DISH uses AWS infrastructure like AWS Regions, AWS Local Zones, and AWS Outposts to build a more flexible, agile, and cost-effective 5G network that redefines the end user experience. The software centric network will be developer friendly so more companies can quickly create innovative 5G applications that disrupt their industries.

What are some of the benefits of a private 5G network?

There are several reasons for enterprises to consider running a private 5G network in their facilities. They include:

  • Improved network connection
  • Longer range compared with WiFi networks
  • Improved coverage
  • Low latency for manufacturing and smart factory environments
  • Complete control over enterprise devices, which can be configured for improved network security

How can AWS support your 5G requirements?

AWS Private 5G is a managed service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale your own private cellular network, with all required hardware and software provided by AWS. With AWS Private 5G, you can:

  • Connect thousands of devices and machines with the low latency and high bandwidth of a private 5G network.
  • Get your network up and running in days with no long planning cycles, no complex integrations, and automated setup.
  • Secure your network with granular access controls for all connected devices, integrated with existing IT policies.
  • Scale your network capacity on demand or add devices with a few clicks, and pay only for the capacity and throughput you use. 

Get started with AWS Private 5G by creating a free AWS account today.

AWS 5G next steps

Check out additional product-related resources
View free offers for Content Delivery services in the cloud 
Sign up for a free account

Instantly get access to the AWS free tier. 

Sign up 
Start building in the console

Get started building in the AWS Management Console.

Sign in