The somewhat mysterious 5G has been all the talk lately. Let’s try to understand what this all is about.
What is 5G
5G, as a matter of fact, is the following 5th generation of the cellular network. We’ve had 1G, 2G, 3G networks before and live with the 4G lately. The next generation is the 5G. And the G here stands for “generation.”
The main thing with 5G is that it was built with IoT in mind. It allows much faster and more efficient connection with all the smart devices and appliances we have around and prefer to use wi-fi for today.
5G technology builds around the following principles:
- extremely low latency,
- High data rate
- high bandwidth per unit area,
- Extremely broad coverage and availability
- A large number of connected devices,
- low network energy usage.
In a nutshell, 5G features more efficient encoding and can use larger channels, resulting in higher connection speeds.
Like any other cellular network, 5G utilizes a cell site system to cover the area and send the encoded data via radio waves. All the cells connect to a network backbone.
5G is based on the OFDM or Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing. OFDM is a type of encoding designed for low latency and high flexibility in plain words. It modulates a digital signal across several channels, which decreases the interference. To keep it plain, it sends out the signal through more channels than the previous generations, making it clear by the end-point.
Besides this, 5G claims to have a so-called “New Radio” or 5G NR air interface, that is supposed to increase the network’s flexibility and scalability.
5G works on both extra-low sub-6 GHz waves and standard mmWave waves, making the capacity even higher.
5G also has high flexibility in wavebands, being available in high, mid, and low frequencies. This should enhance the user experience, if not for a small problem: you need the airways to be available, which is not the case for most countries today.
5G promises user experience straight out of a sci-fi movie: an immediate, reliable connection to all your devices, along with a bunch of services.
Today’s truth is not that shiny for most countries. It would seem to come very near in places like Saudi Arabia or South Korea, but the rest of the world is not even close yet.
The hope is that this will improve, especially in the US, where the 5G speeds are among the lowest, to the level of evening up with the 4G. And it should, with the rising availability of the airways.
Why do we need 5G
So, why does the world need the 5G? Is it that essential?
Well, yes, we need the 5G, and it is going to be essential. The thing is, with all the devices interconnected, we need a reliable and fast way of connecting to them at any given moment.
Yes, we use Bluetooth with our peripherals now, and it works, but what about the smart home devices? What about the connected EVs? All these are meant to work outside the Bluetooth range.
And the 4G isn’t enough; let’s accept that truth. We already need more. And 5G is what will give us more.
How is 5G better than 4G
5G has higher speeds, higher capacity, and lower latency than 4G. This, in a nutshell, means that the overall experience is faster in all ways.
Today, and moreover tomorrow, this is extremely important. Especially important is the capacity, as more and more devices connect to the network simultaneously.
When will it be really there?
The initial promise was to have 5G fully out at the beginning of 2020. Then the pandemic stroke and, of course, the timelines shifted. Right now, there’s the promise of rolling it out this year. All-in-all it would depend on where you are. For example, in South Korea, 5G is already a full-on reality. When will it really hit the edge in the US? There is reason to hope that things will improve this year, at least for a part of the country. But full coverage? There’s no telling now, with the pandemic still on the radar and everything else in the way.
Is 5G Safe?
Is 4G safe? Is Wi-Fi safe? Well, if we’re looking around the web: no, all these will kill you or should have already killed you if you think about it.
But if we’re serious, the answer will be not really. Just like the previous generations of mobile networks or Wi-Fi, it is not good for your health, but it’s not extremely bad for it too.
All-in-all we can safely say that 5G is as safe as a mobile network can be.
The 5G is not really a big revolution or something; it’s merely the next step in mobile networks. Yes, it is progress compared to 4G. And the 4G was progress compared to 3G etc.
The last decade or two was all about progress and new technologies. And it’s not any different today. This refers to everything, and the mobile network is and should be included.
I am sure there will be more Gs soon. Or maybe we will see a change of a letter or something… the only sure thing is that 5G is not the end.