From dial-up to DSL, from 3G to 4G, internet speeds keep getting faster all the time. Now, everyone is beginning to talk about the next innovation in speedy connectivity— 5G internet. Before you get too excited, uncover the real facts about 5G and what it means for your life.

Does 5G Internet Exist Yet?

Unfortunately, 5G internet is still a dream. It’s a breakthrough waiting to happen, and it will happen, because human beings are amazingly good at figuring out ways to make things faster and better. Still, you’re looking at 2018 as the earliest date for the formation of a 5G network, and it probably won’t be commercially available until 2020.

Why the Delay?

The higher frequencies necessary for 5G mean that the signals can’t actually travel as far and reliably as they can with the 4G frequencies. The connection simply isn’t as good at those higher levels. That’s why it will take a little time for scientists and developers to work out all the issues and come up with a solution that blends higher speeds with excellent signal strength. Most likely, signal boosters and extra antennas will be necessary to make 5G available in specific areas. With time, the higher-frequency network will become more widespread.

What Do the “G’s” Mean?

Why do we call it 3G, 4G, or 5G? Technically, the “G” indicates the generation of the technology. Wireless phone tech in its infancy would have been 1G. When companies allowed texting between cellphones, that was 2G. 3G bumped up the phone’s potential, enabling web browsing as well as calls and texts. Next came 4G, the fourth generation of the technology, with increased speeds and capabilities that allowed for uploads and downloads rather than just browsing. You’re probably also familiar with 4G LTE, which stands for “fourth-generation long-term evolution.” This iteration created a new standard to unify all the providers and users.

How Will 5G Change My Life?

5G goes another step beyond 4G LTE. It adds a layer to that LTE standard, improving data transfer speeds and permitting users to upload and download 3D video or Ultra HD video and photos. Plus, it will make more space available for the thousands of devices that connect to the internet every day. Think of the traffic on the 4G network as someone blowing air through a straw. Now imagine the force of a high-powered hair dryer. That extra width and power is what 5G internet can provide for you and for other users.

The idea of 5G is exciting, but it’s at least a couple of years in the future— and that’s a good thing. Rolling the technology out before it’s ready could mean higher prices, more problems, and a lot of frustration for everyone. Who knows— by the time 5G is ready, there may be another unexpected technology breakthrough that transforms the way we communicate.

One Chinese mobile company, Huawei, is speculating that 5G could be up to 100 times faster than 4G. How fast do you think 5G internet will be?