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What is 5G Wireless Technology?

What is 5G Wireless Technology?

By acchabaccha

Before we undertake to understand what 5G is all about, we should have a quick look into the background of 4G mobile connectivity.

The fourth generation of mobile technology started to make waves in the 2000’s. 4G made mobile internet speeds 500 times faster than 3G. This development was a massive feat in this field of technology. However, it now appears a real possibility that very soon 4G will not be able to manage the huge number of connections that will be on the network. A demand for a connection with greater capacity will arise. This is where 5G comes in to force.

5G stands for “fifth generation”. It is an upcoming standard for mobile communications. It is transforming the world. It promises to be significantly faster than the 4G technology currently in use. When it arrives, 5G technology will use a higher- frequency band of the wireless spectrum called the millimeter wave that allows data to be transferred much more rapidly than the lower-frequency band dedicated to 4G. The plus side of the new technology is that it should be able to meet the vast needs of additional data transmission capability that is expected over the next many years. The downside of the 5G system is that its millimeter wave lengths don’t travel as far as 4G and as such the new 5G networks will require more antennas spaced close together than previous wireless generations.

How much faster will 5G be over 4G? The answer to this query is still vague. Simply said, 5G is widely believed to be smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G. It promises data speeds that far outstrip the fastest home broadband currently available. With speeds up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G.  A big reasons for this vagueness is because 5G hardware standards haven’t yet been agreed upon by the telecom industry. Several versions of this technology are still in the developmental stage and as such there is no clear “speed multiple”. However, all companies pursuing this new field hold the unanimous view that it will be  significantly faster than today’s wireless connections. 

The key differentiating factor between 4G and 5G is low latency. Latency is the time that passes from the moment information is sent from a device until it can be used by the receiver. 5G uses unique radio frequencies that are higher and more directional than those used by 4G. The directionality of 5G is important because 4G towers send data all over, which can waste power and energy and ultimately weaken access to the internet   

You’d be able to download and upload files faster through 5G. You’d also be able to watch videos almost straight away without waiting for buffering times. 5G will be able to fix bandwidth issues. It will also be able to handle emerging technologies such as driverless cars. But it must be remembered that these scenarios are still theoretical. It will take a lot of investments to make them work.

The benefits of 5G are both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term, 5G benefits the carrier as much or more than the consumer. The initial costs of new equipment will be offset by the savings over maintaining the current aging infrastructure. In the long term, it is totally different story. The sheer amount of data that can be transferred at high speeds means 5G will be able to do a lot more than bring fast downloads to your devices. Higher 5G speeds could permit factories to increase automation and improve the collection of information.

However, the progress in technological advancement comes with some concerns. Since more data – and more kinds of data -- will be travelling across 5G networks, it will give internet attackers a lot more possibilities to steal and misuse data. In addition, the wider use of a 5G wireless network means any breakdown of the system would have more widespread and severe results. Such difficulties could affect public safety as well as world economic activity. Then there are people who talk about the frightening frequencies of 5G. Until now, mobile broadband networks have been designed with people in mind. 5G has been designed with machines’ needs in mind offering low-latency high-efficiency data transfer. 5G allows faster transmission times not noticeable by humans but picked up by machines to achieve near-seamless communication.  

Since our current frequency bandwidths are rapidly being saturated, the idea behind 5G is to use untapped bandwidth of extremely high-frequency millimeter wave (MMW). These waves travel short distance. They tend to be absorbed by rains and plants. Some concerns have arisen over radioactive frequency (RF) of these waves on humans. So far research has shown RF radiation does not cause cancer by damaging DNA cells but there still are ongoing studies regarding the effects of RF radiation on humans. Let’s leave this to the scientists.

Otherwise, we may open a whole Pandora’s Box for us – and our planet

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