5G networks in 2021

Launching the 5G network is probably the most anticipated advancement when speaking of wireless networks. It’s been 13 years since the launch of the previous generation – also known as 4G (LTE). Introducing LTE in 2008 provided us with the data transfer speed of 100 – 300 Mbps, which compared to its predecessors – 3G with 3,1 Mbps or 3,5G with 14,4 Mbps was undoubtedly a huge step forward. With this accomplishment,  many new opportunities occurred and that definitely improved the quality of life of any tech enthusiast.

But when it comes to 5G, the situation is a bit more complicated. It is safe to say that no other network generation brought up so many conflicting opinions and doubts. So what’s the deal? Why is that so? What will 5G bring and what should (not) we worry about? Let’s see.

Introducing 5G

As mentioned before, it’s the successor of the standard 4G (LTE) network. Even that one provided us with quite nice data transfer speed and coverage. Where we once needed the cables, now the LTE modem will do – which makes home office, watching movies, shows or videos even in harder-to-reach areas much easier.

The first difference from its predecessor is the frequency band. While 4G uses 0.5 – 2,6 GHz, the new generation is able to use the wider spectrum – 0,6 – 6GHz in some cases up to 30GHz and more. It is predicted that it will use the standard frequencies between 2 – 6 GHz which will ensure unbeatably fast data transmission for downloads, loading websites or watching videos. This network though is aiming even higher – up to frequencies 24 – 29 GHz and 37-43 GHz. Using this frequency, the data transmission speed could reach 10 – 30 Gbps, quite a jump, right?

The speed like that won’t only ensure tremendous acceleration of basic processes, but most importantly, it opens up whole new opportunities, for example navigation and communication between self-driving cars, operating smart traffic lighting system, managing smart households with extremely high-speed response and many others, especially those from the industries which will benefit from the fast 5G network.

Different generations of wireless networks comparison

GenerationCommercial launchWhat it broughtTransmission speed
2G1991Calls, texts9,6 / 14,4 Kbps
3G1998Internet3,1 – 14,4 Mbps
4G2008Streaming HD video100 – 300 Mbps
5G2020Streaming 4K video, 3D video, IoT10 – 30 Gbps


What’s the catch?

So we already know what we can look forward to, the question is when…? Providing this kind of network will probably be a bit complicated and time consuming. On top of that, to be able to use the 5G network, there is a need for infrastructure – the transmitters all around the country. Smaller advantage could also be an option to separately connect it with 3G and 4G networks, which could at least temporarily cover the harder-to-reach areas.

Another, quite logical obstacle is the finances. To build up such a network, a tremendous volume of investments will be needed – the cooperation between the network operators and state funding is expected. And, of course, to be able to use the 5G network, people will need to invest as well. Not necessarily buying a transmitter but the device supporting 5G – like phone, modem, etc.

What you should (not) worry about?

The well known fact about frequency is that the higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength. This means that to provide stable network coverage we will need to build up a dense infrastructure of telecom towers.

When it comes to high frequency 5G, the doubt rises that it will cause ionizing radiation, which could be dangerous. The thing is, the higher the frequency of magnetic waves is, the higher energy it has – e.g. gamma ray, X-ray and higher UV frequencies. The fact is, that the limit for the radiation to become ionizing is approximately 2 500 000 GHz, which is 83,000 times more than 5G radiation, so there really is no reason to worry.

Sum up

Building up and launching a 5G network will take a while and will happen step by step. Thanks to that, there is still time for testing and more research about its benefits and impact. In several countries, including Czech Republic and Slovakia, the pilot launch of the 5G network has already started. The very first 5G network was launched in South Korea in April 2019

Even though the 4G network is still sufficient, taking into consideration the rising number of devices we use to connect, most likely the 4G network wouldn’t be enough within the next few years. The 5G network should provide a solution not only for the capacity limits, but also the speed and stability of the connection.

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