Upcoming 5G could mean hyper-fast downloads and driverless cars

Most smartphones use 4G - but a faster wireless broadband is coming.
Most smartphones use 4G - but a faster wireless broadband is coming. Photo credit: Getty

A faster future could be just around the corner with the introduction of 5G.

'Fifth generation' is the next step up from 4G, which is the wireless broadband technology most smartphones currently use.  The next evolution in GSMA radio networking will "dramatically increase the speed at which data can navigate across mobile networks", according to Vodafone.

5G is reportedly up to 1000 times faster than 4G, and could mean that in the future downloading a full-length movie takes just a matter of seconds.

In a showcase at its InnoV8 Auckland headquarters on Tuesday, Vodafone in partnership with Nokia tested out a trial 5G connection which powered a range of futuristic technologies.

The event featured the world's first 5G gaming tournament, which was broadcast live to thousands of people via Twitch, an e-sports platform. Robots powered by 5G were also on display, as were live virtual reality performances.

The upgrade to a 5G network could have enormous repercussions for the world, meaning driverless cars could become commonplace as well as connected robotics and live virtual reality.

The technology will start being rolled out this year in countries around the world.

So far there's no word on when New Zealand could start seeing 5G, but Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners says the company will make sure Kiwis see the latest broadband developments "as soon as they become available."