David Papp Blog

What’s The Big Deal With 5G?

5G has been around for a while but to the public at large it’s only been since late summer 2021 that it’s been around. And from then on, people don’t understand what the big deal is about it. Both AT&T and Verizon are running 5G and their customers will see the icon light up on their new smartphones.

But that’s about the biggest difference people seem to notice about this technology.

As a result, it’s led people to think it’s not that big of a deal and the fuss is clearly unfounded. But the reality is that we’re not exactly seeing 5G.

The reality is that there is a big difference behind 5G the technology and what the public defines as a “5G experience”. Right now, people are being introduced the technology but not seeing how it fits into our every day lives.

But soon enough people will start to see the difference. Last summer, T-Mobile’s “ultra capacity” 5G has the fastest mobile network, easily outpacing 4G networks. Then you also have C-band networks that were being built late this year that can change the game for AT&T and Verizon’s networks.

In essence, 5G is an investment for the next decade, unlike previous mobile transitions. The big deal is that this technology is able to offer some big changes as companies begin to integrate the technology.

5G Has Multiple Bands

The twist to the integration of this technology is that 5G has three main kinds of bands. There is low-band, mid-band, and high-band. As the technology continues to adapt, naturally people gravitate towards the mid-band option being the best way to integrate.

Already T-Mobile and AT&T and Verizon’s stuff are all using mid-band.

The bands themselves plus other aspects of 5G are what are stumping a lot of people as well. For example, we’ve heard about 5G Wi-Fi or AT&T releasing “5G E” phones. Those aren’t exactly 5G cellular. Here is the difference between the various technologies stemming from this.

There was also a lot of talk earlier about 5G wave towers on every lamppost and other such things which isn’t true.

There Is Meaning Behind The G In 5G

Where we can start to gain understanding is setting aside what the general public is saying and looking at experts. To start, we can look at the naming scheme – 5G – and understand a lot.

The G in that meaning stands for generation of wireless technology.

It hasn’t been that relevant to the public because previous iterations were defined through data transmission speeds, or encoding methods. They were used mainly as breaks between what would be compatible with the modern world.

1G was analog cellular.

2G was technologies like CDMA, GSM, and TDMA which were first generation of digital cellular tech.

3G like EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, were the technologies that brought speeds from 200kbps to megabits per second.

4G, like WiMAX and LTE, are what’s scaling 3G’s megabits to hundreds of megabits and some even reaching gigabits of speed.

Where 5G comes in it doesn’t necessarily boost the speeds to higher levels but rather it brings three new aspects:

  • Bigger channels to be used to speed up data overall.
  • Lower latency so that it can be more responsive.
  • And more connectivity as it can connect more devices at once. A great benefit for sensors and smart devices.

There isn’t a clean break with 4G though. Right now 5G phones need the 4G networks and their coverage. At the start this was the case as well so people wouldn’t see a difference.

That is until we start moving away from those and companies make their standalone networks.

Understand The Difference Between The Bands

You can also see how big of a deal it all is when you understand the potential of the various bands. In general, people who are using 5G have more options in terms of airwaves compared to 4G.

The notable thing is the “high-band” which are short-range airwaves that 4G technology can’t use.

With 5G being able to interact at various band-levels, more possibilities open up. This is what people should focus on. After all, we know the speed between them isn’t any faster. Instead, 5G is more about how wide it can get.

Low bands are what are used for the oldest cell and TV frequencies in the world. They cover large distances but aren’t wide channels. In fact, a lot of them used to be used for 4G. So they’re slow but they look and feel like 4G.

Mid-bands are what current cell and Wi-Fi frequencies cover and slightly above too. These are your towers that appear every half a mile.

High-band, also called millimeter-wave, is the new stuff and has massive airwave range in the 20-100GHz. These airwaves have never been used in consumer applications and it makes sense. They’re insanely short ranges – about 800 feet.

They Are Also Highly Secure

You’ve heard conspiracy theories around this technology which may have been where you heard about 5G. Things like it causes cancer or it causes covid. Those theories all fall apart when you realize the facts.

Low-band and mid-band technology is based on the technology that we already use and have been using for decades now. Low-band first came around with UHF TVs which have been used since 1952.

The only security concerns are with the high-band. Because of its short-range, it requires a lot of small cell sites to make this work. Some cities have this but many don’t. And those that have it know the issues with them.

Those issues being that the waves are too weak as things like leaves, walls, glass, cars, clothing and skin is enough to disrupt these signals.