5g explained

What is 5G All about? – Big Scary 5G Explained

You might hear a lot of mis-information about 5G causing this, causing that, and generally being a big scary problem. But, don’t let hearsay guide your decisions when you can simply get better informed. Here we shed a light on what 5G is, how it has come about and what it means for you and mobile data speeds and performance.

So, what is 5G Exactly?

In simple terms, 5G is just the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband phone networks (the successor to 4G networks basically). The point being, to provide greater bandwidth and far higher speeds - potentially up to 100x faster than current 4G networks can offer.

This means downloads could take 1/100th of the time, your internet will perform faster, streaming will be much smoother, sending and receiving information will be quicker, and all-round service will be better. This could also be a big step forwards in terms of the scope of smart technology support and interconnectivity that 4G simply won’t be able to handle as technology advances.

The tech side of it

In more precise terms, 5G is better because it used a different type of data signal that is less prone to interference than previous methods. This is called OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing). This might sound complex (and the arrangements behind it certainly are), but it is basically a clever way to split the data signal over different channels to reduce interference. Something not far from what 3G and 4G have worked on in the past, but in a more effective way.

This requires more sophisticated cell towers and higher frequency radio-waves and microwaves. Higher frequency microwaves might sound like a scary term, but as with radio-waves and microwave signals currently used in phone networks, research has shown no evidence of harm to individuals in any of these cases.

Certainly, you shouldn’t be comparing the signals your phone sends and receives to the methods your home microwave uses to heat your soup. This is the difference between Ionizing radiation (microwave ovens, sunlight, x-rays and gamma rays) which can be harmful, and non-ionising radiation (ultraviolet and visible light, infrared, cell-tower microwaves and radio waves). You can learn more about the differences here (very interesting for science buffs).

How do they setup 5G networks?

To get 5G operational, we of course need additional cell towers to support it. However, even without the advent of 5G, with mobile usage constantly growing in the UK the need for additional towers to support greater consumer needs was always going to require more towers. What 5G could do is actually make this more efficient, with towers providing better bandwidth than earlier variants.

Additionally, 5G’s greater power and ability to support future tech, also means it may be able to develop as an alternative to generally hard-line internet services for Laptops, smart TVs and the home in general. This could also mean greater competition for home and office internet services and more competitive pricing for the customer in the long run.   

Future tech support could lead to greater IoT (internet of Things) support, where smart technology could help to connect everything throughout a city, from smartphones to the home, cars, traffic and even public services including garbage collection, leading to the term “smart city”.