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  • Xavier Arenas

5G Technology: An Overview

5G technology is the next generation of cellular telecommunication networks. Contrasted to the previous generation, 4G, 5G has many benefits and drawbacks. A few key topics of discussion are the download speeds, upload speeds, broadcast difference, and upgrades.


Compared to the previous 4G, 5G aims to give faster download and upload speeds and broader bandwidths, possibly up to 10,000Mbps (or 10Gbps). 4G at its best could only reach 1,000Mbps. As better as 5G sounds, it has its downsides. Another difference is the latency speed. 5G provides at worst 26-millisecond latency, and 4G at its best offers 36-millisecond latency. However, both 4G and 5G suffer from a significant difference in various places. If you live in a densely populated city like Las Vegas, download speeds differ from San Francisco.

Compared to 4G, it has less broadcast distance, weakens battery life, and even though it has a better upload speed than 4G, it is severely less than the download speed at 1Gbps. The broadcast distance is about 30-40 miles, compared to 5G towers at only 500 meters. The plan for many providers is to expand the sheer amount of buildings that can provide 5G to make up for the significant broadcast difference. 5G trades distance for a purely better network than 4G.


Logistically how does it work? Well, 5G uses newer network technology to receive shorter frequencies. 5G uses millimetre waves on 30-300GHz, which supplies better quality and speed of the internet. Because the frequency is so high, it can travel faster but only at a shorter range. Technologically, 5G towers are relatively the same as 4G towers, emitting different radio waves.

A big thing we hear now is that we have to buy a new phone or device because our current phones can’t use 5G. As I mentioned earlier, the difference is frequencies don’t allow 4G phones to receive 5G. The same towers for 5G can still be used for 4G, so 4G won’t be leaving, but you will not gain the benefits of 5G.


In my own opinion, I think 5G is an excellent upgrade to 4G. About 100x greater. My only gripe would be the pure amount of projected 5G towers to be built a pretty insane amount (an estimated 250,000 more units). Given that, 5G is a massive moment for technology as a whole. Just about everyone can benefit from better internet, especially when 4G wouldn’t cover you. As we move further into an era of electronic implementation, 5G can make so many things possible, like a fully automated home or driverless car. To specify, smart cars will be directly impacted if they can connect to navigation at all times.


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