The European Space Agency is trying to drum up a bit of support for delivering 5G services via satellite. This is a departure from the current system of of huge masts dotted everywhere, although it's quite unlikely that satellites will totally replace these.
The problem, especially for data, is that a signal heading to your phone from space takes a long time to complete its journey. In internet terminology this latency creates issues, which means that some applications just won't work well. In terms of download speed the distance isn't significant, only the time between you requesting a file and the time it takes to start downloading.
But the idea of offering universal coverage via 5G would mean the whole of Europe, perhaps the world, would get access. It doesn't prevent the deployment of ground-based 5G as well, to keep the low-latency services we're used to. It might, however, offer a lifeline to people in more remote areas where coverage via mast just isn't an option.
We're probably looking at a considerable time for this tech to turn up. At this point the discussion is happening among ESA and the 16 space companies to define how the system would work. An initiative was signed at the Paris Air and Space Show according to Engadget.
5G networks are currently being tested in India and Latvia but it's likely that a consumer rollout is years away, especially as 4G hasn't yet fulfilled all of its potential. [via Engadget]