The latest standard of broadband cellular networks seems to be a polarizing one. Advocates boast about the benefits of this new network standard while many others claim it is unsafe with some other interesting allegations thrown on top. In the below, we will demystify the hot topic of 5G.
We break down what 5G is, the differences from previous generations, and how it can benefit you.
What Is 5G
5G is the latest telecommunication standard for air transfer and an upgrade to the existing 4G standard. To better understand what 5G actually is, we need to understand how any of these broadband frequencies operate.
All the broadband frequencies operate off radio waves. The exact style of wave used to power your radio at home and police scanners are also used to provide signals to our mobile phones.
The main difference between the signal that radio and a mobile phone receive is the frequency of the signal. Frequency is the biggest difference between the generational upgrades in our broadband connections. To understand the use cases and benefits of different broadband generations, we first require an understanding of the frequency spectrum that sets them apart.
The radio frequency spectrum is a small part of what we would call the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum ranges from as low as 10hz which is lower than any radio all the way past visible light until ultra-high energy Gama rays at 2.42 × 1028, For the sake of the waves used in broadband connection, we will be focusing only from 850Hgz to 52.6Ghz. A frequency range that is perfectly safe for all organic matter.
The basic theory behind the frequency is this. The higher the frequency, the more power it can carry, but it can only travel a much shorter distance. Power, in this case, we can relate to data and the distance is how far you would need to be from the antenna.
The results of the higher frequency mean that 5G will be able to transfer data as we have never seen before at a near-instant latency. Where standard 4G had a maximum transfer speed of 150Mbps, 5G blows it out of the water with a staggering peak of 10Gbps. That is an incredible 66 times increase in speed. We are yet to get a good idea of average speed, as though not enough people use 5G to truly test for congestion.
Latency is where 5G really shows its muscles over the previous generations. At current, the average latency for 4G is around 50ms. 5G has a peak efficiency of 1ms latency, with the average assumed to be around 10ms. This incredible speed boost could mean that 5G stands to replace home-based high-speed internet at even the most latency-dependent tasks like gaming or playing the online slots real money South Africa has to offer.
The range is where 5G falls short of previous generations. As we discussed earlier, the higher the frequency means less distance is possible for radio signals.
At the moment, 4G has an effective range of approximately 15 km. 5G on the other hand will need a small tower on every block as its effective range is only 500 meters. This may not pose a problem to those living in very built-up areas, for outer regions though, it may not make sense for most providers to build the additional required infrastructure.