Cell tower

5G Explained in the simplest way possible

5G Explained in the simplest way possible

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  • Post last modified:February 14, 2023
  • Post category:Tech
  • Post comments:8 Comments
  • Reading time:9 mins read
Cell tower

Over the decades, mobile networks have gotten better and better. Since the inception of 1G, the first generation of mobile technologies in 1982, it has paved way for the future that most of us dream of. It is also worth noting that 1G was fully analog.

Almost 10 years later, in 1991 2G came along and it was the first digital mobile network. It offered digital network services such as GPRS and EDGE. In October 2001, after one decade, 3G was finally unveiled. With it came generational leaps such as increased bandwidth, one could send and receive large email messages and also increased speeds of up to 2mbps which was very fast back then. Then came along 4G with obviously faster speeds and increased bandwidth.

But 5G is a different beast and it might just be the biggest generational leap that we have been waiting for. 5G promises insanely fast speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second which is absolutely mind blowing.

Remember when it used to take a whole day to download a movie using 3G. Then 4G came along and drastically reduced it to about 20 minutes. 5G elevates it a notch higher taking about 4 seconds. That’s how fast 5G really is. In this article we are going to breakdown what 5G is, the technology behind it and its application in our world today.

What is 5G and how does it work?

5g cell tower at night

5G is simply the fifth generation of mobile network. Obviously, there is more to 5G than this definition and we are going to cover most of it in this article. Unlike 4G, 5G promises lower latency of up to 1ms, a high bandwidth and also faster speeds. The technology behind 5G is quite fascinating and we are going to break it down in the easiest way possible.

5G uses a Sub radio frequency which is in a band called Sub 6. This essentially means that its frequency falls in the category between 600 MHz and 6 GHz.

This frequency is obviously higher than the one 4G uses. While this promises faster speeds, it also poses one of the downsides of 5G which is a shorter wavelength. It is evident in the electromagnetic spectrum, that the higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength. Have you ever asked yourself why fibre optic is blazingly fast? Well, it is because of its high frequency which ranges from 430 THz to 770 THz.

Since 5G has a smaller wavelength, even small obstacles are known to cause hindrance. There was also an experiment which showed that rain can disrupt 5G millimeter waves in the air. This is also evident when you switch from 2.4GHz Wi-Fi to 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi.

Due to the increase in frequency, speeds are relatively higher but the wavelength is relatively lower and an obstacle in the way can cause a disconnection.

One of the ways 5G is combating this is by building small cells. Small cells are essentially smaller versions of the cellular towers which are meant to boost coverage in a given area.

Health concerns of 5G.

stressed person

Using the knowledge of electromagnetism, the higher the frequency the stronger the energy content that it carries. People have raised issues of 5G potentially causing dangerous illnesses but it is not entirely true. Although the frequency in those 5G millimeter waves is high, they are not high enough to cause ionization of particles.

The dangerous waves that should really worry you are the Gamma rays and mostly the X rays which carry a high energy content. This can cause ionization and if one is exposed to these radiations for a long period, they can cause serious health concerns.

Advantages of 5G.

Very low latency.

Group of gamers

One of the reasons why people are very excited about 5G is due to its low latency. Latency is simply the response time between when a command is issued and when it is executed. 4G had a latency of about 40ms which does not seem as much but in applications such as in self driving cars it could be very costly since a large amount of data needs to be received and processed fast.

5G cuts that latency up to 1ms which is absolutely nuts. Now large amount of data can be sent and received at very fast speeds which benefits not only car autonomy but also gamers playing online.

Great speeds.

vehicles travelling fast at night

As we discussed earlier, 5G speeds are just insane. This is a huge generation leap provided the infrastructure is available. Imagine what you could do with 10 Giga bits per second. From streaming ultra-fast Netflix content to lightning-fast downloads. I have a suggestion which I would wish to see in this fifth generation of mobile network. Imagine movie makers and TV shows shooting their scenes in 8K and streaming it directly through Netflix. I know we may be far from that reality but it would be really cool. This is the future that I can’t wait to see.

Disadvantages of 5G.

Short range.

Cell Tower at night

Of course, everything that has an upside also has a downside, Although, 5G has many upsides, one of its downsides is its low wavelength. Since it has a high frequency, the wavelength is in turn shorter hence it has a very short range. To demonstrate this better, we are going to compare FM radio waves to 5G waves.

Since FM waves range from a frequency of 87.5MHz to 108.5 MHz, they tend to have a longer wavelength which in turn means a longer range hence the towers are significantly far from one another. With 5G waves, the wavelength is lower hence its towers must be very close to one another to ensure connectivity. Small obstacles such as rain are known to cause a disruption in the range of 5G waves. But as the technology gets better, this issue will be solved in the future.

Exciting 5G application and use cases.

  • Immersive Gaming and Virtual Reality
  • In health care it will enable patients and doctors to stay more connected through devices such as wearables.
  • Improve efficiency and cutting cost in manufacturing
  • It will aid farmers also cut down on cost through use of high precision sensors to collect data and process it giving the farmer more accurate information.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Nelly Njeri

    The ongoing research and development in 5G are fascinating. I look forward to seeing how it evolves in the coming years and the possibilities it unlocks for businesses, individuals, and society as a whole.

  2. Davenport Reuben

    5G will revolutionize the technological advancement in our globe.

  3. Felix Atiang

    That’s technology at its best

  4. Lyda Dorcas

    Technology at its best, thanks this is so informative

  5. Carson Anekeya

    The explanation of 5G’s use of Sub 6 radio frequency, falling between 600 MHz and 6 GHz, sheds light on the technical aspect in an accessible manner. The comparison of higher frequency resulting in shorter wavelength, akin to the electromagnetic spectrum, is a clever way to illustrate this concept. Drawing a parallel to the blazing speed of fiber optics due to its high frequency range provides a relatable example, aiding in better comprehension. Great insight.

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