The single most important fact about 5G that nobody is talking about is called Phased Arrays. It will totally change the way cell towers and cell phones are constructed and will transform the blanket of radiation which has enveloped our world for two decades into a million powerful beams whizzing by us at all times. Phased arrays were one of the first things I learned about in the very beginning of my long, involuntary journey from medical student to campaigner against wireless technology.Why You Shouldn't Get Excited About 5G - Untangled
After I was injured by X-rays inI began to read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with electromagnetic radiation and its effects on life. Norton, Brodeur wrote other excellent books, listed here. It was going to scan the Atlantic Ocean as a key early warning element protecting us against the threat of sea-launched ballistic missiles from the Soviet Union.
Although it emitted an average power of onlywattssimilar to some FM radio stations, it did not broadcast that energy from only a single antenna and it did not spread that energy out uniformly in all directions. The antennas in each array worked together as a unit to focus all their energy into a narrow, steerable beam. Shortly after I read this, I discovered firsthand what some of the bio-effects were.
Attempting to finish my M. I collapsed one day with all the symptoms of a heart attack, whereupon I resigned from school and moved up to Mendocino to recover. For nine months, every evening at precisely p.
At precisely p. I lived in Mendocino from throughand although I eventually recovered my health, I was always aware of an uncomfortable pressure in my chest whenever I was on the coast. I also lived in Mendocino from toand felt that same discomfort whenever I was there, and always felt it suddenly vanish when I drove out of range of PAVE PAWS, and suddenly return at the same point on my journey home.
The arrays are going to track each other, so that wherever you are, a beam from your smartphone is going to be aimed directly at the base station cell towerand a beam from the base station is going to be aimed directly at you. The beam from the tower will hit you even if you are standing near someone who is on a smartphone.
If you are in a crowd, multiple beams will overlap and be unavoidable. At present, smartphones emit a maximum of about two watts, and usually operate at a power of less than a watt. That will still be true of 5G phones, however inside a 5G phone there may be 8 tiny arrays of 8 tiny antennas each, all working together to track the nearest cell tower and aim a narrowly focused beam at it.
The FCC has recently adopted rules allowing the effective power of those beams to be as much as 20 watts. Now if a handheld smartphone sent a watt beam through your body, it would far exceed the exposure limit set by the FCC. What the FCC is counting on is that there is going to be a metal shield between the display side of a 5G phone and the side with all the circuitry and antennas.Would you want a cell phone tower or network base station in your neighborhood?
For many people the answer is "no way. The new 5G wireless is not the only technology that will require more and more cell towers. Google's much-hyped gigabit fiber deployments have stalled, and it appears to be turning toward wireless broadband.
That too will likely require towers or some sort of relay equipment to beam signals to homes and offices. But unlike the current LTE sometimes called 4G technology most carriers use to beam data smartphones, 5G requires a more dense network of towers to handle the traffic, which is why Wheeler and the industry figure the towers will multiply like Tribbles on the Starship Enterprise.
In the wireless industry, that process is called densification. In other words, 5G means a lot more towers. Although 5G won't be here for a while, despite the hypeit should arrive at some point in this next decade, and when it does consumers will demand it.
weBoost is 5G ready
The wireless tech will be much faster than LTE, but exactly how much faster is not yet clear. Ericsson said it had achieved 5 Gbps on a testbed for 5G. That's about 50 times faster than today's fastest LTE networks. Samsung demonstrated potential 5G technologies running at 7. However, residents of many communities have blocked the construction of cell phone towers in their neighborhoods, some citing concerns over potential health problems.
Others are simply put off by the sheer ugliness of the towers. Gaining approval from local governments can also be very slow. To my knowledge, no studies exist that confirm cell towers produce harmful radiation, but consumers who believe there is a link have to choose between allowing the towers or settling for less-robust wireless connectivity. Wheeler acknowledged those concerns and suggested that wireless carriers should consider sharing towers to reduce density.
Although there is some history of cooperation between carriers, it tends to be the exception and not the rule, and I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for U. San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder covers business and technology.
He writes regularly for CIO. Here are the latest Insider stories. More Insider Sign Out. Sign In Register. Sign Out Sign In Register. Latest Insider. Check out the latest Insider stories here. More from the IDG Network.
Middle East braces for 5G opportunities and challenges. Just how fast is 5G wireless?But over the past year, carriers across the world have rolled out multiple 5G networks and devicesusing a combination of lab tests and real-world user results to sharpen their initially soft marketing claims.
As we prepare to kick off5G performance is concrete — or as close to concrete as we can get with a technology that will continue to improve for years after its initial release. Inspired by T-Mobile, multiple carriers have embraced a multi-tier 5G strategy that uses three types of radio signals to deliver cellular service to 5G devices: low, mid, and high band frequencies.
Each tier has different characteristics. If you want to understand how 5G will work where you live, this guide will make it clear. Cellular phones get their wireless communication abilities from tiny radios. Tuned all the way to the left, all the TV will pick up is an audio signal.
In the middle, it will find signals with both audio and video. And at the right, it will find signals that make the little TV display 3D holographic video and surround sound audio. Old 4G phones were able to tune to the left and middle, but not the right. New 5G phones can either tune all three, or to the middle and right but not the left.
The left side is called low band 5G, while the middle is known as mid band 5G, and the right is high band 5G. Understanding how 5G service works comes down to recognizing that all three bands are being used to deliver 5G service, each with its own combination of speed and range. As shown in the photo above, T-Mobile has depicted the three types of signals as a layer cake.
The red low band tier covers a lot of space, slowly, while the yellow mid band covers less space at faster speeds, and the red high band covers the least space at super-fast speeds. In quick summary, the bands work as follows in the real world. One low band MHz tower can cover hundreds of square miles with 5G service that ranges in speed from 30 to megabits per second Mbps. A mid band 2. Each of these tiers will improve in performance over time.
Under unrealistically idealized conditions, a speed around Mbps might be possible. The bad news is that low band 5G may, depending on where you live, come nowhere close to those numbers. In the U. Regardless, towers built with mid band radios can offer service within several-mile radiuses — shorter than low band, but further than high band.
My personal tests of the first Sprint mid band 5G phone peaked at Mbpsbut more commonly fell in the Mbps range — an average around as fast as low band 5G at its bestwith the prospect of reaching Mbps peaks in some markets. Outside of the U. Chip makers expect to deliver roughly 5Gbps speeds over mid band in upcoming chip sets, and Huawei says it achieved a 3. The maximum range of high band 5G antennas recently improved to just over one mile, though mmWave signals are far more susceptible to physical encumbrance than low and mid band ones — buildings in urban environments knock that distance down to roughly 0.
Expect change to be a constant with 5G, though, including steps forward and back. Announcements of new 5G cities and additional 5G towers should be fairly frequent for the foreseeable future.
But when a high-speed 5G tower goes up and gets saturated with users, carriers will need to add 5G capacity — possibly sharing or switching over less-used 4G radio towers — to keep data speeds up.The primary focus and reason for needing an upgraded network is to support the growing number of devices that demand internet access, many of them requiring so much bandwidth in order to function normally that 4G simply doesn't cut it anymore.
The radio spectrum is broken up into bands, each with unique features as you move up into higher frequencies. Not only are they less cluttered with existing cellular data, and so can be used in the future for increasing bandwidth demands, they're also highly directional and can be used right next to other wireless signals without causing interference.
This is very different than 4G towers that fire data in all directions, potentially wasting both energy and power to beam radio waves at locations that aren't even requesting access to the internet. What all of this means is that 5G networks can beam ultrafast data to a lot more users, with high precision and little latency. One way this is being dealt with is by using strategically placed antennas, either really small ones in specific rooms or buildings that need them, or large ones positioned throughout a city.
As 5G expands, there will also probably be many repeating stations to push the radio waves as far as possible to provide long range 5G support. Another difference between 5G and 4G is that 5G networks can more easily understand the type of data being requested, and are able to switch into a lower power mode when not in use or when supplying low rates to specific devices, but then switch to a higher powered mode for things like HD video streaming.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be moved uploaded or downloaded through a network over a given time. From a peak speed perspective, 5G is 20 times faster than 4G. This means that during the time it took to download just one piece of data with 4G like a moviethe same could have been downloaded 20 times over a 5G network.
Speeds vary once you start moving, like in a car or train. There are lots of variables that affect speed, but 4G networks often show an average of around 30 Mbpsmaking 5G faster than 4G in the real world. Websites load faster, online multiplayer games don't lag as much, there's smooth and realistic video when using Skype or FaceTimeetc.
Where 4G fails at providing all the data needs to a growing number of mobile devices, 5G opens the airways for more internet-enabled tech like smart traffic lights, wireless sensors, mobile wearablesand car-to-car communication. Vehicles that receive GPS data and other instructions that help them navigate the road, like software updates or traffic alerts and other real-time data, require fast internet to always be on top—it isn't realistic to think that all of this could be supported by 4G networks.
Since 5G can carry data so much quicker than 4G networks, it isn't out of the realm of possibility to expect to see more raw, uncompressed data transfers.
What this will do is ultimately allow for even quicker access to information since it won't need to be uncompressed before being used. You can get 5G in heavily populated areas but not in most cities or rural communities.
This means even if you have a 5G phonethere are huge areas of the country where you can't get 5G-level service. In the US, Verizon has two 5G services that are available in select cities. What Does Wireless Really Mean?Combining cutting-edge network technology and the latest high-spec'd devices, 5G should offer connections that are multitudes faster than previous mobile technology, with average download speeds of around 1Gbps expected to soon be the norm.
The networks are expected to supercharge Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data that allows for a smarter and more connected world. Many of these networks are working alongside existing 3G and 4G technology to provide speedier connections that stay online no matter where you are.
You may already be able to get 5G where you live, and below we're going to talk you through exactly what 5G is and more. The main four carriers in the US now offer 5G connectivity, but where you can get a signal is limited. Verizon surprised most of the world by launching its 5G Home network in latefollowed by its 5G mobile network at the start of Aprilmaking it the first globally to offer the next-generation network. At the time of writing Aprilit offers 5G in 34 locations. It's planning even more throughoutunsurprisingly.
In Chicago, US we've managed to obtain speeds of up to 1. However, Verizon's 5G coverage is patchy given its use of the ultra-high-speed but low-area mmWave tech - specifically in the 28Ghz and 39Ghz spectrums - so it's more accurate to say it's live in neighborhoods and areas within those cities - at least for now.
We experienced this patchiness firsthand and had to move around the city's various 5G masts to get this top speed, though we managed to get around 1Gbps quite consistently. T-Mobile went for a different strategy, especially since the company spent much of in eventually successful negotiations to merge with rival telecom Sprint. While T-Mobile also uses some 28Ghz mmWave frequencies, T-Mobile 5G 's broader expansion also includes subMhz frequencies that reach much farther to provide for suburban and rural communities but deliver lower speeds.
Sprint opted for a middle-of-the-road frequency approach with the so-called 'mid-band' 2. It's now also live in Houston, with more cities to follow. After a late launchthe carrier went so far as to expand to seven more cities including Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando in April but still didn't have a phone, relying on the 5G Netgear Nighthawk mobile hotspot for service.
Its 5G coverage has since improved though and the network does now offer 5G handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 range. UK carriers had a similarly expansivelikewise reaching cities and towns but not blanketing the majority of the country. See our 5G in the UK page for specifics on each carrier. By the end ofit had expanded to 50 towns and cities from London to Edinburgh, including Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, and Wolverhampton.
By Aprilcoverage was available in 71 towns and cities. Like the US networks, though, 5G covers some but not all areas in each city. While the promised 1Gbps speeds were possible, we saw them more around the Mbps range. Vodafone launched its 5G service on July 3, in seven cities, rolling out to a further eight towns and cities on July By year's end, that had expanded to 31 cities and towns, including London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cardiff.
As of AprilVodafone offers 5G in 41 places. It also offers 5G roaming in select locations, which the other major UK networks don't at the time of writing. Next up was Threewhich launched a 5G service in London on August 19, though initially only for home broadband. The carrier's planned late mobile 5G rollout was pushed back to early to ensure all elements of the network were built out.Michelle Yan: 5G is coming.
Well, technically it's here. This fifth-generation cellular network is 10 times faster than 4G LTE. That means instead of waiting five minutes to download a movie on Netflix in 4G, it will take just 30 seconds on 5G. So it could even replace your home's current high-speed internet service.
The new standard means devices can communicate with each other with no lag.
You know how when you write with a pen, you see it as it happens? That's zero latency. That's pretty much what 5G can do: no waiting. That opens up the possibility for things like wireless VR experiences and more reliable driverless cars thanks to the ability to analyze and process data at faster speeds.
It's an exciting time for faster, more connected devices. But there are some obstacles 5G needs to overcome before we can really reap all of its amazing benefits. First, we need a whole new infrastructure. Your cell phone provider, for example, will need to install a lot of new equipment for this new technology because 5G uses a totally different wavelength than the 4G standard your phone currently uses. The 5G standard uses millimeter waves, which are a lot shorter than the wavelengths 4G uses.
The shorter wavelength means 5G can carry a lot of data much faster than 4G, but it also means a much shorter range.
So to ensure a reliable 5G signal, there needs to be a lot of 5G cell towers and antennas everywhere. We're talking on every lamppost, traffic light, etc.
Antonio Villas-Boas: 5G isn't gonna be cheap. You know, each node, or mini cell tower, needs some kind of connection to it, and that means laying down fiber optic cables, and, you know, it's still an undertaking, and it's definitely not in the millions. It's definitely in the billions, possibly hundreds of billions. Michelle: Not only will this cost billions of dollars, but there's also pushback from many local communities.
Antonio: One of the biggest problems they face is actually local governments, local communities, who don't want these carriers to build towers or antennas all over the place. Or maybe they're afraid of the health risks, which is another big concern.
Michelle: Some are concerned that 5G radiation may cause cancer. The FCC so far has said that there aren't any problems or concerns with 5G radiation, but they have said they still need to do more research.Carriers started rolling out fixed 5G to select cities a few years ago, and mobile 5G has already made appearances in cities around the country, with a much more comprehensive rollout expected this year.
Yet it may seem as though there are more questions about 5G than there are answers. And of course, there is the debate about which carrier will have the best 5G service. Latency, or the time it takes devices to communicate with wireless networks, will also drastically decrease. Unlike LTE, 5G operates on three different spectrum bands. While this may not seem important, it will have a dramatic effect on your everyday use. Low-band spectrum can also be described as a sub-1GHz spectrum.
While low-band spectrum offers great coverage area and wall penetration, there is a big drawback: Peak data speeds will top out around Mbps.
5G: everything you need to know
T-Mobile is the key player when it comes to low-band spectrum. The carrier picked up a massive amount of MHz spectrum at a Federal Communications Commission FCC auction in and is using it to quickly build out its nationwide 5G network. It does, however, fail to penetrate buildings as effectively as low-band spectrum. Expect peak speeds up to 1Gbps on mid-band spectrum.
Sprint has the majority of unused mid-band spectrum in the U. Massive MIMO groups multiple antennas onto a single box, and at a single cell tower, to create multiple simultaneous beams to different users. Sprint will also use Beamforming to bolster 5G service on the mid-band.
This sends a single focused signal to every user in the cell, and systems using it to monitor each user to make sure they have a consistent signal. High-band spectrum is what delivers the highest performance for 5G, but with major weaknesses.
It is often referred to as mmWave. High-band spectrum can offer peak speeds up to 10Gbps and has extremely low latency. The main drawback of high-band is that it has low coverage area and building penetration is poor. These are low-power base stations that cover small geographic areas and can be combined with beamforming to bolster coverage. The International Telecommunication Union ITU is a specialized agency at the United Nations that develops technical standards for communication technologies, and it sets the rules for radio spectrum usage and telecommunications interoperability.
After years of work, the agency created a draft report with 13 minimum requirements for 5G in Carriers are running out of LTE capacity in many major metropolitan areas. In some cities, users are already experiencing slowdowns during busy times of the day. Expect to see autonomous vehicles rise at the same rate that 5G is deployed across the U.
If a car brakes quickly up ahead, yours may learn about it immediately and preemptively brake as well, preventing a collision.
This kind of vehicle-to-vehicle communication could ultimately save thousands of lives.
5G Wavelengths — From Blankets to Bullets
Utility companies will be able to easily track usage remotely, sensors can notify public works departments when drains flood or streetlights go outand municipalities will be able to quickly and inexpensively install surveillance cameras. Since 5G has remarkably low latency, remote control of heavy machinery will become a reality.
While the primary aim is to reduce risk in hazardous environments, it will also allow technicians with specialized skills to control machinery from anywhere in the world. Expect to see improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery, and physical therapy via ARprecision surgery, and even remote surgery in the coming years. Remember massive Machine-Type Communications? Hospitals can create massive sensor networks to monitor patients, physicians can prescribe smart pills to track complianceand insurers can even monitor subscribers to determine appropriate treatments and processes.
One of the most exciting and crucial aspects of 5G is its effect on the Internet of Things.