Should We All Be Worried About 5G?
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Telecommunications are shifting towards the fifth generation of cellular networks (5G). In this article the possible benefits and potential risks of a 5G network will be discussed.
1. What is the 5G network?
5G refer to the 5th generation mobile network. This is a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects and devices.
The main difference between 4G and 5G is the radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). 5G will use a combination of both millimeter wave spectrum (mm Wave) and microwave frequency bands (cm Wave) unlike previous networks such as 3G and 4G, which used only microwave frequency bands (cm Wave).
In order for carriers to build superfast 5G networks they must install multitude of small cell sites to light poles, walls or towers, often in relatively small proximity to one another.
1G: Mobile voice calls
2G Mobile voice calls and SMS
3G: Mobile web browsing
4G: Mobile video consumption and higher data speed
5G: Technology to serve consumers & digitalisation of industries
2. How does it work?
As 5G signals will run over new radio frequencies this means cell tower equipment will need to be updated.
There are three different methods for building a 5G network:
- Low-band network (wide coverage area but only about 20% faster than 4G)
- Mid-band network (balances speed and coverage)
- High-band network (superfast speeds but signals don’t travel well and struggle to move through hard surfaces).
3. What are the possible benefits?
Much of the hype about 5G is to do with speed (peak speeds are expected to be 100x faster than 4G). It is said to enable a new wave of innovation with IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AR (Augmented Reality) – among many more.
Other mentioned benefits include reduced latency- the time it takes for a cell phone (or another connected device) to make a request from a server and get a response- to virtually zero. The increase capacity of 5G networks is said to also minimise the impact to load spikes.
It is suggested the introduction of 5G would see the following things available:
Due to the fact 5G uses a large amount of spectrum bands that haven’t been used by public before.
Vehicle to vehicle communications that could potentially save thousands of people lives.
Public safety and infrastructure
Ability for municipals to install cheap surveillance equipment and utility companies to identify possible hazards such as drains flooding.
Remote device control
Control of heavy machinery from anywhere in the world.
Expected improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery and physical therapy via AR, precision surgery and remote surgery in years to come. Introduction to extensive sensor network in hospitals to track and monitor patients.
IoT (Internet of Things)
More efficient communication between sensors and smart devices.
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4. The potential risks and drawbacks of 5G.
Significant adoption of 5G is going to takes years. According to industry trade group GSMA it is estimated that by 2025 15% mobile connections will be 5G (Newsroom, 2019). There are however several concerns that have arisen with the potential 5G roll out.
There has been concerns arising about the security of 5G, especially since crucial technologies such as self-drive cars and hea