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5G: How does it work? Is it dangerous? Everything you need to know

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Many technology enthusiasts are excited to get the fastest navigation with 5G network. On the other hand, there is also a lot of misinformation around this new network, which generates undue commotion. However, this network brings great innovation and improves the way we communicate.

What is 5G?

Image from space of planet Earth with city lights of places that might have 5G network

We all see on our phones a 4G symbol when we are connected with our data to the internet. Sometimes, a 3G or 2G can be displayed, or nothing depending on whether there are problems on the network. We know that having a 4G connection is better than 3G or 2G, but why is this? And if it’s better, why would a 5G cause controversy? Well, first you have to explain what this number and this letter mean.

In telecommunications, there have been different generations of technology. Each has brought innovations to the way we communicate. The data Internet network we communicate to is like a road where data travels, the wider the data, the faster it can travel.

This has been the evolution of the generations of networks:

• 1G- allowed to make phone calls

• 2G- introduced the possibility of sending SMS text messages

•3G- to calls and messages has added the ability to navigate

•4G- this network is already broadband, so it can support streaming services as well as augmented reality applications.

As you can see, each generation has added the possibility of doing more things on the internet and in less time. While a person in 2003 should wait hours to download a song, today we have the advantage of streaming to listen to songs everywhere without having to wait. So, what does 5G add?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless communication technologies and standards. This means that this 5G is the next step in evolution. If it is now common to hear messages take a second to arrive, with 5G you might expect them to arrive at the time. Another example, is calls and video calls over the network are increasingly common; however, many times suffer from a slight delay, with 5G network we can expect this to stop happening.

On the other hand, it is also expected that with 5G network it will be much easier to maintain a connection with everyday objects and between us. Have you seen appliances that connect to the internet? Refrigerators with screens or washing machines with Bluetooth? Well, 5G network hopes to host all these technologies without saturating the network.

This may seem excessive to many people, but it would make things easier. Imagine scheduling a washing charge while you’re away from home or knowing that your refrigerator has maintenance for a direct reminder on your phone. Don’t underestimate the power of 5G to make everyday life easier.

Even more importantly, a real-time connection is not for frivolous purposes either. A demonstration of 5G connection in Barcelona showed how it could help to assist a remote surgery, all in real-time. This would expand the possibilities of contacting specialists from all over the world. In other words, 5G would bring us closer to people in everyday and personal life, but it will also make the world of science work together more easily. In the end, that’s the point of communications: shortening distances and borders by connecting more.

But how does 5G work?

How does 5G work?

Tiny lights representing data moving thrugh 5G network

5G network, like all previous generations of networks, operates through radio waves at different frequencies. These are captured by mobile devices and enable network use.

5G network currently relies on LTE bands, used by 4G. However, it is expected to migrate exclusively to 5G bands. Information on what these bands will be and the frequencies that will be used will vary depending on the region. For example, in Spain, 26 and 28 GHz bands are expected to be used.

5G network uses a wider bandwidth than 4G so it allows more data to be transmitted in less time. This is what allows the millisecond latency to be better. Millisecond latency is the time it takes for a data packet to be transferred within the network. With 4G the response time was 100 milliseconds, with 5G could go down to 1 or 2 milliseconds. This is what leads to a real-time connection.

Although there is still much controversy as to how 5G operates are safe enough and whether there will be any impact that has not yet been considered. That’s what we’ll talk about later, first, we need to recapitulate the characteristics of 5G to visualize the reasons why it’s a big breakthrough compared to 4G.

5G and 4G differences

Man looking at a window while talimg on a phone using 5G

4G network has given us great benefits in the world of communications. Who imagines life without streaming today? What else remains to be conquered? Real-time connection. 5G brings us that advantage, and when we compare side by side with 4G network, it seems that the latter stays forever as a thing of the past.

Characteristics of 4G network

• 30MBps maximum download speed

• 100 milliseconds latency

• Broadband for streaming and augmented reality

Characteristics of 5G network

• 2GBps as maximum download speed (at this speed you could download a movie in seconds, for example).

• 1 to 2 milliseconds latency

• Lower signal and streaming failure

• More efficient use of energy

• Expansion of the interconnectivity of machines in real-time (that is, we will be better connected with our electronic devices in real-time).

Is 5G dangerous?

Woman using a phone with 5G network

We have already talked about what 5G is, how it works, and its benefits against 4G and all previous generations. However, if this network is so good, why is there so much controversy surrounding its installation and use?

To a large extent, the controversy around 5G is due to disinformation. A lot of fake news went viral saying that 5G could be harmful to health or that it was going to be a system for governments to break privacy laws with citizens. None of this is true.

WHO has stated that the radiofrequency required for 5G network is as carcinogenic as coffee. That is, it is suspected that it could be carcinogenic (it is still a radiofrequency) however it is not determinant, and many factors of chance can affect a person exposed to 5G signals to get cancer.

As far as privacy is concerned, 5G network does not seek to facilitate third-party interference in our lives. Firstly, this does not depend on a network, but on various legislations at the same time on good cybersecurity practices on the part of users.

There are still concerns on the part of environmental NGOs about the use of 5G. They are not sure that enough testing has been done to ensure that there is no impact on ecosystems. You might think, what does a radio frequency affect species? Well, our use of the internet impacts the environment and 5G should not be the exception. Although only time will tell.

On the other hand, there is a real controversy around 5G network and aeronautics.

The danger of 5G for airports

Airplane taking off at night

During aircraft security protocol, passengers are asked to turn off their phones or put them in airplane mode. This is because aircraft radars, as well as cell phones, use radio frequencies to navigate. Although they do not use the same band or frequencies, it is a preventive matter to avoid using cell phones when boarding an aircraft.

However, at US airports, airlines have requested that there be no 5G network within 2 miles around. Why? Because apparently one of the bands that planes use to direct their landing is the same one that uses 5G. They, therefore, believe that it is much safer and more convenient to restrict the availability of this network at airports, as it is never safe for everyone to comply with security measures.

However, it is not of high concern. Besides that, we already know that you can use a 4G network from a 5G phone if you have the option to use the fastest network. No one would actually be held incommunicado.

Conclusions on 5G network

Person with blue background to represent 5G network

5G network is the next generation in technology and communications. This network brings us great benefits, we will be better communicated in real-time with various electronic devices, as well as with each other. This form of immediate communication expands what we can achieve in less time in the field of science, for example.

On the other hand, much of the concern around 5G network falls on fake news. However, some adjustments are needed to make the network as safe as possible for aeronautics as well as ecosystems.

While 5G reaches our reach, we will need to be aware of the latest news (from a reliable source) about the legislation and news of this network.

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- About Me

I am Giovani Rodriguez, a self-taught full-stack developer currently residing in Nuevo Leon, México. I started my journey as a freelancer in this field four years ago. All these years of hard work have rewarded me with quite an expertise in developing business applications and structuring business models that are efficient and applicable.

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