The ITU has set a timeline that calls for the standard to be finished in 2020. Hence the name, which follows in the footsteps of IMT-2000 (3G) and IMT-Advanced (4G).

The name and timeline came out of a recent meeting in San Diego of the ITU-R Working Party 5D, the group within the ITU charged with working out the new standard. Pretty much everything else about 5G is still open to speculation.

Hard work standards setting.... Delegates at an ITU meeting. Image: International Telecommunication Union

Some reports on Monday said the group had also defined 5G as a network that could deliver 20G bps (bits per second), an ambitious goal that may in fact become part of the official effort. But it's not set in stone yet.

"The next step is to establish technical performance requirements for the radio systems to support 5G, taking into account the needs of a wide portfolio of future scenarios and use cases," the ITU said in a press release.

And though the 5G standard may call for blazingly fast speeds for uploading and downloading bits, other features may be even more important. Some in the mobile industry are calling for 5G to include shorter network delays for things like driverless cars and low power consumption for Internet of Things devices like sensors. To meet all these needs, the standard may define ways to use higher frequencies and to combine cellular with Wi-Fi networks.

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