Phone companies like to brag about offering blazing fast "4G" technology. But the U.S. government is already starting to explore the next generation of wireless technology: "5G."
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Friday to begin seeking public input on opening up new airwaves that could, one day, allow smartphone users to download high-quality videos a thousand times faster than what's possible on most connections today.
"We are moving from networks designed for analog voice to networks designed for high-speed digital data," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel explained. "So how do we meet these demands? We look up. Way, way, up. To infinity and beyond."
The agency is eyeing whether to allow cell-phone carriers to use frequencies higher than 24 gigahertz. Up till now, those millimeter airwaves have been considered incapable of handling cell-phone signals. The frequencies can't carry signals very far and are easily blocked by obstacles.
But companies are working on new technologies that could overcome those problems. If it's possible to use the airwaves to power mobile devices, they could handle massive amounts of data that would be impossible on the airwaves in use today. The frequencies may allow for connections as fast as 10 gigabits per second, according to the FCC.