The essential guide to 5G

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Dear Quartz members—

Do you find yourself struggling to make sense of what’s important about 5G—or even what exactly it is? You’re not alone. 5G, the bundle of technologies that make up the latest wireless network “generation,” is more hyped than any of its predecessors. Yet thanks to the technologies it employs and the way those will intensify connectivity and supercharge automation, 5G has the potential to transform communications networks—and the global economy itself—far more than earlier generations.

Our field guide this week by Quartz senior reporter Gwynn Guilford digs into what 5G really is: what’s driving the hype, whether the reality stacks up, and how this technology could change our lives.

Today’s 5G state of play breaks down the technology that makes 5G unique, and weighs how this new mobile network architecture could transform business, economics, and society. A second story by our health reporter Katherine Foley examines the fierce debate roiling the scientific community over the risks of 5G radiation. And over the next few days, we’ll be releasing other stories in the series, including an analysis of the business case for 5G, and a brief explainer on the geopolitics of 5G. You can also download the presentation about 5G for members that we published on Friday.

To discuss with friends over dinner:

Here are a few conversation starters from our guide:

  • Though 5G has already been launched in a bunch of places around the world, it will probably be at least a decade before the promised revolution takes place.
  • One big thing that sets 5G apart from past “G”s is that those have benefited mainly consumers. 5G’s most powerful technological improvements are geared toward businesses and public infrastructure.
  • The 5G network will eventually connect as many as 1 million devices per square kilometer. (Imagine 3.5 million devices connected to each other in an area the size of Central Park.) That compares with the 10,000 per square km maximum possible on 4G.
  • The future of mobile connectivity probably won’t rest on smartphones but rather devices that haven’t yet been invented.
  • In one of Nokia’s factories in Oulu, Finland, wireless robots running off a 5G network are already producing equipment to build more 5G networks. Kinda meta, huh?

….or with US, on Friday, on this call

Join us for a discussion on Friday at 11am EDT with Gwynn and Quartz technology editor, Mike Murphy, where they’ll break down what’s hype and what might well be real about 5G. We’ll be taking questions and comments live on the video conference call, accessible at the usual location.

If you’d like to dial in, use the following numbers:
UK: 0800-014 8469
USA: 866-226 4650
For all of the numbers, the access code is 722 994 440.

Other member calls this week

  • Weds., Sept. 25, 11am EDT: Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli calls in live from the 74th session of the UN General Assembly to discuss the issues that world leaders and diplomats are most focused on. (Sign up for a free daily email digest of Quartz’s reports from UNGA this week here.)
  • Thurs., Sept. 26, noon EDT:  Technology Mike Murphy and I discuss Amazon’s latest product announcements scheduled for Weds., as the tech company seeks to maintain its strong footing in the smart-home market.

(To add our complete schedule of upcoming conference calls to your Google calendar, click here.)

Please send a note to if you have any feedback, or suggestions for other things we should cover. Another great way to give feedback on Quartz membership is to complete this short survey.

Best wishes for a productive week,

Kevin J. Delaney
Editor in chief, Quartz