5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment, your 4G LTE connection. With 5G, you’ll see exponentially faster download and upload speeds. Latency, or the time it takes devices to communicate with the wireless networks, will also drastically decrease.
Now that we know what 5G is, it’s a good idea to understand how it works, since it’s different from traditional 4G LTE. First, let’s talk spectrum.
How Does 5G Work?
Unlike LTE, 5G operates on three different spectrum bands. While this may not seem important, it will have a dramatic effect on your everyday use. The three different spectrum bands are:
Low-band spectrum: Can also be described as sub 1GHz spectrum. It’s the primary band used by carriers in the U.S. for LTE, and bandwidth is nearly depleted.
While low-band spectrum offers great coverage area and wall penetration, there is a big drawback: Peak data speeds will top out around 100Mbps.
Key player – T-Mobile
Mid-band spectrum: Provides faster speeds and lower latency than low-band. It does, however, fail to penetrate buildings as effectively as low-band spectrum. Expect peak speeds up to 1Gbps on mid-band spectrum.
Key player – Massive MIMO, Beamforming
High-band spectrum: is what delivers the highest performance for 5G, but with major weaknesses. It is often referred to as mmWave.
High-band spectrum can offer peak speeds up to 10Gbps and has extremely low latency. The main drawback of high-band is that it has low coverage area and building penetration is poor.
Key player – AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon
How fast is 5G?
- Peak data rate: 5G will offer significantly faster data speeds. Peak data rates can hit 20Gbps downlink and 10Gbps uplink per mobile base station. Mind you, that’s not the speed you’d experience with 5G (unless you have a dedicated connection), it’s the speed shared by all users on the cell.
- Real-world speeds: While the peak data rates for 5G sound pretty impressive, actual speeds won’t be the same. The spec calls for user download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps.
- Latency: Latency, the time it takes data to travel from one point to another, should be at 4 milliseconds in ideal circumstances, and at 1 millisecond for use cases that demand the utmost speed. Think remote surgeries, for instance.
- Efficiency: Radio interfaces should be energy efficient when in use, and drop into low-energy mode when not in use. Ideally, a radio should be able to switch into a low-energy state within 10 milliseconds when no longer in use.
- Spectral efficiency: Spectral efficiency is “the optimized use of spectrum or bandwidth so that the maximum amount of data can be transmitted with the fewest transmission errors.” 5G should have a slightly improved spectral efficiency over LTE, coming in at 30bits/Hz downlink, and 15 bits/Hz uplink.
- Mobility: With 5G, base stations should support movement from 0 to 310 mph. This basically means the base station should work across a range of antenna movements — even on a high-speed train. While it’s easily done on LTE networks, such mobility can be a challenge on new millimeter wave networks.
- Connection density: 5G should be able to support many more connected devices than LTE. The standard states 5G should be able to support 1 million connected devices per square kilometer. That’s a huge number, which takes into account the slew of devices that will power the Internet of Things (IoT).
How Is 5G different To 3G And 4G ?
|Deployment||2004 – 2005||2006 – 2010||2020|
|Latency||100 – 500 milisaat||20 – 30 milisaat||<10 milisaat|
|Average speed||144 kbps||25 mbps||200 – 400 mbps|
Simply said, 5G is widely believed to be smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G. It promises mobile data speeds that far outstrip the fastest home broadband network currently available to consumers. With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G.
Low latency is a key differentiator between 4G and 5G. Latency is the time that passes from the moment information is sent from a device until it can be used by the receiver. Reduced latency means that you’d be able to use your mobile device connection as a replacement for your cable modem and Wi-Fi.
Additionally, you’d be able to download and upload files quickly and easily, without having to worry about the network or phone suddenly crashing. You’d also be able to watch a 4K video almost straight away without having to experience any buffering time.
5G will be able to fix bandwidth issues. Currently, there are so many different devices connected to 3G and 4G networks, that they don’t have the infrastructure to cope effectively. 5G will be able to handle current devices and emerging technologies such as driverless cars and connected home products.
What 5G Phones Are Available And Should You Buy One?
Most of the 5G smartphones that will come in early 2019 will likely have single-band 5G support, rather than hardware than can connect to low-, mid-, and high-spectrum 5G.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
- Samsung Galaxy S10
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy A90
- LG V50 ThinQ
- Moto Z4
- Moto Z3
- Moto Z2 Force
- Huawei Mate X
- Huawei Mate 20 X
Oppo Reno 5G
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
- Axon 10 Pro
- Nubia X
Is 5G Dangerous?
Although 5G may improve our day to day lives, some consumers have voiced concern about potential health hazards. Many of these concerns are over 5G's use of the higher energy millimeter-wave radiation.
“There's often confusion between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation because the term radiation is used for both,” said Kenneth Foster, a professor of bioengineering at Pennsylvania State University. “All light is radiation because it is simply energy moving through space. It's ionizing radiation that is dangerous because it can break chemical bonds.”
At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Clearly, RFR isn’t inherently dangerous, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances it might be.
Some 5G pundits contend that the new network generates radiofrequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer; cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disrupt cell metabolism; and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins.
How Dangerous Is Radiofrequency Radiation?
At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR). What is RFR?
RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Clearly, RFR isn’t inherently dangerous, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances it might be.
Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation.
Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.)
Ionizing radiation is the reason we wear sunscreen outside because short-wavelength ultraviolet light from the sky has enough energy to knock electrons from their atoms, damaging skin cells and DNA.
Millimeter waves, on the other hand, are non-ionizing because they have longer wavelengths and not enough energy to damage cells directly.