What is 5G?

By Andrew Townsend, Published Thursday, 18th June 2020

5G is the next generation in cellular technology and will result in a significant shift in mobile broadband capability.

5G began deployment in early 2019 and is the fifth generation for cellular technology. 5G will be deployed in three bands; low, medium and high. Only medium band is currently being deployed by mobile operators and will provide speeds of up to 900 Mbits. High band will be deployed several years from now and will give speeds of more than 1 Gbit, with a maximum theoretical speed of 10 Gbits.

Comparison to Current Technologies

When 5G is fully deployed and matured it is expected to give download speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s and latency times of less than one second. The 5G medium-band tech being deployed now will give speeds of up to 900 Mbit/s with a latency of 30ms. Let’s compare this to current technology:

  • 4G operates between 5 to 40 Mbit/s with latency ranging from 30 to 120 milliseconds.
  • Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) is up to 80 Mbit/s with latency of approximately 25 milliseconds.
  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is up to 1 Gbit/s with sub one-second latency.

Constraints of High Band 5G

High-band 5G will have trouble passing through objects. So to obtain the best speed you will need an antenna pointing to the nearest tower. This is a technique that Datcom already uses to obtain maximum speeds for customers on 4G. Without this, high band is expected to be unusable indoors or in areas blocked by walls or other objects.

What does 5G mean for me?

It’s another step in making the internet a true utility. Rather than worrying about what speed you get, you just get it, in the same way that you receive water or electricity to your home and business. The wireless aspect of 5G will mean all devices will become fully connected to 5G with little-to-no bandwidth constraints. For entertainment purposes, streaming 4K and eventually 8K will just work, so home and mobile working will be seamless.

It will lead to an increase in streaming apps and games to devices, rather than installing them locally.

It’s expected that autonomous vehicles will come to rely heavily on 5G technology and all cars at some stage are expected to be 5G enabled, as standard. Currently, this is something only available on premium models.

Businesses will be able to use 5G as their primary internet connection or a significantly better backup connection to their landline. Alternatively, both connections can be used simultaneously, with different traffic routed down each line, balancing business IT needs. 5G could also be integrated into your wide area network to provide increased performance and availability of applications.

Is 5G harmful?

As with all previous cellular technologies, 5G networks operate by encoding data into radio waves. The difference with 5G is that it harnesses millimetre waves (mmWave) to encode more data. mmWaves use frequency bands between 24 GHz and 100 GHz. Traditionally, mmWaves were not suitable for broadband applications, as they could not be transmitted with enough reliability to end-user devices until now.

The concern is that mmWaves emit radiation that could have adverse health effects. Unlike higher frequency X-ray and gamma radiation, mmWave radiation is non-ionising, which hasn’t been proven to be harmful to the human body.

If you need advice on how to make the most of 5G in your business, please contact us.
Andrew Townsend

By Andrew Townsend

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