What is 5G-beyond the myths

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Our present world is a fast changing one, with the emergence of modern technologies like artificial intelligence, fast driving cars, IoT, etc. a steady, stronger faster internet is needed to power these technologies which are fascinating and we all enjoy using. To keep up with the explosion of new connected gadgets and vehicles, not to mention the deluge of streaming video, the mobile industry has introduced something called 5G which happens to be about 10 to 100 times faster than its predecessor; 4G. Over the past months, all types of interpretations and myths have been made public in trying to answer the question; ” what is 5G?”.  In this article we will discuss this technology under the following guidelines:

  • what is 5G
  • Transition from 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
  • Areas of application of the network
  • How can you use 5G?
  • Is 5G safe?
  • Benefits of 5G
  • Future of 5G

What is 5G?

5G is next generation (fifth generation) wireless network technology that’s expected to change the way people live and work.  5G networks began rolling out in the United States and around the world in 2018 though still in their early days, experts say the potential is huge. For example: it will bring speeds of around 10 gigabits per second to your phone. Amazing right? That is more than 600 times faster than the typical 4G speeds on today’s mobile phones, and 10 times faster than Google Fiber’s standard home broadband service. With these properties you will be able to download a high-definition movie in few seconds.


With 5G, signals run over new radio frequencies, which require updating radios and other equipment on cell towers. As opposed to previous technologies, 5G uses millimeter waves characterized by frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, which are 10 to 100 times higher than the radio waves used today for 4G and Wi-Fi networks. The millimeter waves possess higher frequencies which may create new lanes on the communication highway. To avoid signal absorption from the millimeter waves by buildings and foliage leaves devices called small cells are placed on the top of buildings and light poles for transmission. 5G also uses massive MIMO; multiple-input multiple-output, and refers to a configuration that takes advantage of the smaller antennas needed for millimeter waves by dramatically increasing the number of antenna ports in each base station. There are three different methods for building a 5G network, depending on the type of assets a wireless carrier has: low-band network (wide coverage area but only about 20% faster than 4G), high-band network (superfast speeds but signals don’t travel well and struggle to move through hard surfaces) and mid-band network (balances speed and coverage).

Transition from 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G

The G in this 5G means it’s a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or “air interfaces,” that make it incompatible with the previous generation.

  • 1G, the first generation of telecom networks (1979), let us talk to each other and be mobile
  • 2G digital networks (1991) let us send messages and travel (with roaming services)
  • 2.5G and 2.75G brought some improvement to data services (GPRS and EDGE)
  • 3G (1998) brought a better mobile internet experience (with limited success)
  • 3.5G brought a truly mobile internet experience, unleashing the mobile apps eco-system
  • 4G (2008) networks brought all-IP services (Voice and Data), a fast broadband internet experience, with unified networks architectures and protocols
  • 4 G LTE ( for Long Term Evolution), starting in 2009, doubled data speeds
  • 5G networks expand broadband wireless services beyond mobile internet to IoT and critical communications segments

Areas of application of 5G network

There are three major areas in which this network is applicable:  

Massive machine to machine communications – also called the Internet of Things (IoT) that involves connecting billions of devices without human intervention at a scale not seen before.   This has the potential to revolutionize modern industrial processes and applications including agriculture, manufacturing and business communications.    

Ultra-reliable low latency communications – mission critical which includes real-time control of devices, industrial robotics, vehicle to vehicle communications and safety systems, autonomous driving and safer transport networks.   Low latency communications also opens up a new world where remote medical care, procedures, and treatment are all possible

Enhanced mobile broadband – providing significantly faster data speeds and greater capacity keeping the world connected.  New applications will include fixed wireless internet access for homes, outdoor broadcast applications without the need for broadcast vans, and greater connectivity for people on the move. 

How can you use 5G?

In order to connect to and get the benefits of this network, consumers have to have 5G-enabled devices. Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, LG, OnePlus and several other device makers have released 5G phones. Apple is widely expected to release a 5G iPhone later in fall 2020. Some companies are also working with carriers to install personal 5G networks so they can reap the benefits without waiting for the nationwide rollout.

Is 5G Safe?

For the past months, online conspiracy theories have blamed 5G for many different mishaps: from cancer, ionizing radiation to coronavirus, but they tend to fall apart at the slightest tap of actual facts. For decades now radio frequencies have been exploited in the telecom industry. 5G is a low-band and mid-band UHF TV radio frequencies that have been used for decades without much worries. Nonetheless, the greatest worries about this network in the US tend to be around high-band, or millimeter-wave, 5G which requires a lot of small cell sites, so the infrastructure is more visible than it was before. The irony about millimeter-wave is that it won’t fry your cells because it isn’t too strong, but rather it’s too weak—it’s blocked by leaves, walls, glass, cars, clothing, and skin. Studies of the millimeter wave have shown that it doesn’t penetrate human skin well and that its strongest effect even at levels of power higher than the 5G network only makes things slightly warmer. Then at the level 5G networks use, there’s no perceptible effect on people.

Benefits of 5G

The 5G network has dominated discussions in recent times with speed is a factor many consider, the network has a lot of other advantages to offer our advanced society in the domains of ;

  • Greater speed in transmissions: increased speeds  approaching 15 or 20 Gbps
  • Lower latency(Latency is the time that elapses since we give an order on our device until the action occurs):  latency will be ten times less than in 4G
  • Greater number of connected; devices it will go to millionaire scale per square kilometer.
  • Network slicing: allows implementing virtual networks (network slicing), creating subnets, in order to provide connectivity more adjusted to specific needs.
  • Drones: Similarly, 5G will unlock the true capability of drones with high definition video delivery.

Future of 5G

Technology keeps changing making our lives easier but these changes require a connectivity of the right magnitude to carry it along. 5G has come to offer that propelling force to power our present day inventions. From IoT, self-driving cars, edge computing, etc. To enjoy the above advantages of the high speed network requires the use of 5G-enabled devices. This article on “what is 5G” gives us a basic understanding of what the 5G network is but it is a technology of the future. So a lot still expected to come as the full potentials of this network is still to be exploited.

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