What is 5G and how do you get it?

Major carriers continue rolling out networks

You've probably seen and heard the hype around 5G, but what is it and what do you have to do to get it?

You’ve probably seen the commercials and heard the hype around 5G. But what is it?

It’s the fifth generation of wireless technology standards. Years ago, 2G gave us texting, 3G allowed us to surf the internet on our phones, and 5G is what’s next.

“5G will be a game changer because in addition to faster data speeds, it lays the groundwork for more advanced uses like autonomous vehicles and smart cities,” said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Bree Fowler.

That’s a ways away, but initially, 5G allows for much faster downloads for videos, games and music - up to five times faster than 4G or LTE.

5G can also handle more devices at once, so you won’t have to deal with bad service when you’re in a crowded place.

So, where is 5G and what do you need to get it?

Understand: 5G technology and where it’s headed

“5G networks are still being build across the country,” Fowler said. “For now, the bigger carriers offer it in many major cities, but some smaller ones, too.”

Locally, major carriers have begun to roll out 5G for consumer use. Coverage area and speed are expected to increase over the next year.

Unless your smart phone is compatible with 5G, you’ll need a new one to take advantage of the new, faster technology. Phones that support 5G include the U.S. versions of Samsung’s newest flagship phones, the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra. LG, Motorola and Oneplus also offer 5G models.

Apple phones will have to wait. The company hasn’t officially announced plans for a 5G phone, although industry experts say they expect it in October.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.