5G

5G Cell Phone Networks

Oftentimes, cell phones will be promoted as having a number of technology upgrades from previous models. Recently, one of the most common upgrades mentioned is 5G. Sometimes, though, the commercials and advertisements do not explain thoroughly what 5G actually is. 5G stands for “Fifth Generation” of cellular network technology, which is used in mobile phones. This technology is used to send text messages and provide internet services, usually via data. 5G was deployed first in 2019 and is being used more and more frequently, though it is still not as widely used as 4G before it.

What is 5G? How does it work? Why are there so many commercials about it? 5G works similarly to other cellular technology before it. It is a cellular network that provides internet access and cellular service to devices around the world. It is distributed by various carriers of the network via antennas to various geographical areas, which are known as cells. These cells provide cellular service and internet capabilities to the devices in range that are 5G capable.

In many ways, 5G is very similar to its predecessors in terms of its purpose, but it does have many upgrades that make it much faster than previous generations. The biggest change is perhaps the fact that given the increase in bandwidth, new networks may be able to expand their service from cell phones to include laptops and desktop computers in their internet services as well. Another important upgrade is the increase in internet and cellular speeds included with 5G. 5G works at a range of speeds, depending on the network and what kind of waves they are using. For example, the fastest 5G speeds come from mmWaves (millimeter waves). But, they don’t have as far reach as more mid-band forms of 5G, which also travel better outdoors. Either way, 5G is still faster than 4G and has broader abilities in terms of how far the service can reach. There is some overlap between the two, but 5G is still a huge improvement. Another major improvement is that 5G can handle far more devices using it per kilometer. 4G is limited to 100,000 devices, while 5G brings the limit all the way up to one million.

5G was first launched in April of 2019, though it takes quite a bit of time to make it as commonplace around the world as current technology. The first country to start using 5G on a large scale was South Korea, followed closely by China. Both estimate over 6 million users. Samsung and Nokia have provided the most equipment for both of these countries to use 5G. Both brands also boast 5G compatible phones, with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 being the first to connect to 5G, the Galaxy S20 being the first all-5G phone, and the Nokia 8.3 claiming to have the best 5G capability compared to other phones at the time of its launch.

Though China and South Korea have been using 5G the most, there is no shortage of other countries jumping on the bandwagon, though it is taking some time. Since May 2019, Australia has been deploying 5G in its major cities and continues to expand this throughout 2020. In Canada, it has been launched but is not expected to be widespread until 2021-2022. The United Kingdom has launched 5G in most major cities, on a variety of different network brands. The United States has 5G capability in most major cities, and offers it from four major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile). Many European countries are on the right track and are making plans for 5G, but most won’t be using it widely until at least 2021 or 2022. Several Latin American countries are in a similar boat, with plans being made but no wide usage for at least another year. The long timeframe for switching to new technology has a few reasons. For one thing, many countries use majority 4G networks. This means that all of their own equipment needs to be updated, along with the phones they primarily use, thus requiring upgrades to be able to connect to 5G networks. This is a process that takes a great deal of time and money. These timeframes have, of course, been exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed down industries of all kinds and makes it more difficult to quickly build and put together the required equipment across many countries.

Another way that COVID-19 has affected the timeline of 5G has less to do with manufacturing and more about science or a lack thereof. There has been a great deal of misinformation and conspiracy theories revolving around 5G, many that are being spread with little to no evidence of their validity. New technology can be scary, especially if people don’t understand it, and 5G is no exception. Many people have had concerns regarding the health risks surrounding wireless networks for quite a long time, especially regarding radiation. With 5G, this has only gotten worse. Since the announcement of 5G, there have been many theories spread that 5G and other similar technology can cause things like brain cancer, autism, and Alzheimer’s. As these claims increased, some countries have banned the use of 5G until there is more information. So far, these claims lack scientific evidence as to whether or not they are true. Many conspiracy theories also went around recently, trying to link the COVID-19 pandemic to 5G networks, some people even saying that the pandemic was a cover up for 5G-caused illnesses. While these claims don’t seem to have any standing, it was enough for some network sites in the United Kingdom to be victims of vandalism and even arson as the rollout of 5G occurred. As of right now, these claims are deemed as untrue and dangerous if believed. Essentially, these theories have no scientific standing and do nothing but cause panic.

5G is something that is becoming more and more common in phones and personal technology, so it is very important to understand. Overall, it seems like a great advancement, allowing for more people to use the services it provides on more devices. It may not be entirely widespread yet, but it will be relatively soon.