Beyond 4G: The battle lines are already being drawn for 5G

You may just be getting used to the benefits of fast fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks, but it’s not too soon to start looking at what 5G could bring.

Sure, the flavor of 4G that’s now dominant — Long Term Evolution, or LTE — is plenty fast. And with T-Mobile rolling out its own 4G LTE network this week, every major U.S. carrier now uses the technology. But will LTE’s maximum speed of 100 megabits per second keep up with our rising data demands over the next decade? And with wireless spectrum already a precious commodity, will we be able to use it more efficiently as we rely on cellular data more?

There’s still plenty we don’t know about the next generation of cellular networks. All we have to go on is the IMT-Advanced specification (International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced) which lays out a theoretical vision for 5G but isn’t an official standard like LTE.