There is a lot of hype around 5G at the moment, but what is it? Is it dangerous?
Will it be the next biggest thing since sliced bread? Let's take a look, and attempt to tackle some common misconceptions about it.
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How fast is 5G compared to LTE?
According to tests undertaken by companies like German Telecom, 5G should be capable of data transfer rates of up to 10 Gigabit/s. LTE, or Long Term Evolution (a 4th Gen mobile comms standard), tends to offer data rates of around 100 Megabits/s.
That's a few orders of magnitude difference. In other words, it will be very fast indeed.
What does 5G mean?
5G, or fifth generation, mobile internet is the next advancement in telecoms technology. It promises, once delivered and rolled out, to provide much faster data download and uploading speed.
It should also be able to offer wider coverage and more stable connectivity.
Is 5G dangerous?
In short yes and no - it depends on who you ask.
Back in June of this year, we wrote an article dedicated to this very subject, check it out!
But for convenience, in essence, it is considered dangerous by some because of the wavelengths of radiation that it will use. According to sites like radiationhealthrisk.com: -
"5G cell towers are more dangerous than other cell towers for two main reasons. First, compared to earlier versions, 5G is ultra high frequency and ultra high intensity."
"Second, since the shorter length millimeter waves (MMV) used in 5G do not travel as far (or through objects), with our current number of cell towers the cell signal will not be reliable.
To compensate, many more mini cell towers must be installed. It is estimated that they will need a mini cell tower every 2 to 8 houses. This will greatly increase our RF Radiation exposure."
But, it should be noted, there are others who are of the opinion it will offer no ill-health risks at all.
The main things to remember is that for radiation to be considered dangerous it needs to be ionizing which 5G is not.
5 common myths about 5G
Like claims about 5G's potential health risks, there are many other common myths about it. Here are some of them.
1. 5G is all about making smartphones faster
While 5G should be about 100 times faster than 4G networks, it should have wide-ranging impacts on many other industries. Once rolled out, it should massively increase the effectiveness of IoT, self-driving cars, and robotics.
For example, by using 5G over the cloud, robots will reach their full potential in manufacturing and other services like hospitality. Robots will be able to work alongside humans and be controlled by operators using AR headsets etc.
2. 5G is all about bandwidth
While there is some truth to this, as we've seen, its real benefit is low latency connectivity. In other words, it's not just about how much data you transfer (bandwidth) at any one time, but also the speed at which you can do it.
Once fully deployed 5G will be a game changer for many industries and should allow for near-instant data transfer (depending on the size of data obviously). For example, it could help doctors perform remote surgery using surgical robots.
3. 5G will only really impact the telecoms industry
As we have already seen this is simply not the whole story. Of course, it will also be revolutionary for telecoms, but not only that industry.
It is likely to make inroads into many other industries like entertainment and even farming. For example, 5G could be used for near-instant communication between different farming apparatus.
This will allow one operator to remote-operate various things from tractors to combine harvesters and much more.
4. 5G will completely replace 4G
In theory yes, but not necessarily. If it did most analysts believe it would be decades away before 4G became extinct.
This is mainly because 5G requires new infrastructure to be built which will take years. 5G requires clusters of antennas that are closer to users.
It is simply not cost effective to completely abandon existing 4G networks just yet.
5. 5G: Coming to a town near you very soon!
If you live or work, in certain areas of big cities, then this is sort of true. But for everyone else, especially in remote parts of the world, it will be some time yet before it arrives.