How will 5G technology change Houston?

HOUSTON – It’s another first for the city of Houston: Our city will be among the first in the country to experience fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless technology.

Verizon announced that it will start rolling out a residential network before the end of the year, with a mobile version coming next year.

The technology is going to change how you use your phone, but the impact stretches well beyond handheld devices to transportation, health care and entertainment.

What’s 5G?

Recently Verizon announced that Houston would be among the first cities in the world to get 5G. So what’s the big deal?

How did we get here?

1G brought us car phones and paging. 2G allowed us to text. 3G let us share photos of our lives. 4G brought us live video from our phones and faster speeds. Now we are at 5G.

Will I be able to use my current phone on the 5G system?

“Absolutely not,” said Rice University Computer Science Professor Dr. Lin Zhong.

He said 5G will not replace 4G. But he said it will be a big upgrade.

“Think of the things we have gone through 4G. Fourth generation. It's about a decade a generation starting at the 80s until today. I think we're at the end of the fourth generation," he said.

How is Rice University involved in this next generation?

Zhong said Rice is now testing a key piece of technology for 5G. The prototype is mounted on Rice Stadium. Zhong said this next big step could be a game changer for how we use technology and the companies we prefer.

"4G was the time for the iPhone and Android. Basically Apple and Google seized the opportunity and rose to dominance in the mobile computing scenario. 5G is a fresh start," Zhong said.

When will we see 5G in the Houston area?

Verizon said it will start its rollout later this year. Those who watch the industry say the first phones that support 5G will be out next year, with the network more widely available in 2020.

What will 5G affect?

A technology trade group says 5G will offer speed more than 100 times faster than what we have today. 5G is expected to connect everything, including robots, medical devices and industrial and agricultural devices. Movies that now take minutes to download are expected to take a fraction of a second. 5G is also expected to open up the road to self-driving cars and make virtual and augmented reality a true reality.