One number and one letter that will have a major impact on our lives soon.

You’ll be hearing the term a lot in the next couple years as the infrastructure for this next generation of wireless service spreads across the country and 5G devices are unveiled.

But what exactly does 5G mean?

Blazing speeds
Most obviously, with 5G you will notice substantially faster connections on all wireless devices.

Speeds can in theory grow to hundreds of times faster than current 4G speeds, but realistically experts predict speeds 10 to 20 times faster than 4G. That’s still a huge leap.

On a personal level, you’ll be able to download a movie in seconds. Streaming will be smoother, uploading and downloading video done in a snap.

More devices in a home can be tuned in online at the same time with fewer delays. Expanding that from a family to a city, a strong 5G network allows residents in large population centers to maintain speeds without slowdowns despite competition from millions of other Internet-connected devices.

Impact on business
On a business level, the potential is limitless with these speeds.

But beyond strictly speed, there’s another huge benefit that businesses will be crowing about once 5G becomes common — a reduction in latency.

This means wireless connections will remain strong and consistent with little to no interruption. While that’s a nice bonus if you’re browsing the Internet for fun (Goodbye, buffering), it’s a major time-saver for a business.

And it’s not just about people. With the Internet of Things (IoT) expanding rapidly, integrating smart devices to networks is going to be much easier. This is critical, as more than 20 billion connected devices will exist by 2020.

5G will help push the automated vehicle market from an idea to a reality due to the instant real-time communication required for that technology to work.

Medical treatment will get more reliable due to quicker access to real-time  data. Augmented and virtual reality will see growth, as will telemedicine and other long-distance efforts.

When is it coming?
Small pockets of 5G service have been unveiled by carriers in a few cities around the country, but the rollout will pick up steam in 2019 and reach more locations, including potentially Ann Arbor in Michigan. Then, the move toward a wider spread of the 5G networks will be in full force throughout 2020 and 2021.

The first flagship phones and other devices that are 5G capable are anticipated in early 2019 from the major carriers, with a lot more coming by the end of the year.

Bottom line
With the improved speeds and low latency of 5G, not only will people have faster Internet access in their private lives, businesses should be prepared for an increase in efficiency that leads to better real-time data and less downtime. The effect on the economy should be strong in a positive way.

It’s not going to be everywhere overnight, but once 5G truly arrives, the change will be tangible at work and play.

Kelly Siegel is CEO of National Technology Management (NTM), 30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 116, in Bingham Farms. He has been in the IT consulting business for 21 years and saved businesses millions of dollars by streamlining their technology systems. NTM can be reached at 248-658-0829, and Siegel can be reached via email at