What do we actually gain: 5G explained

Technology Hussein Al-Bahir
Photo : Pexels

Throughout the start of this century, data roaming shimmied through several evolutionary ranks, beginning with 3G (Hutchison Telecommunications) in 2003, followed by 4G (with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens) in 2009, and finally 5G in 2017 as a result of multiple companies ultimately coming together to propose the concept. But what does this evolution mean for us, regular users?

Well firstly, we should consider that the most notable advantage that comes with each new rank of the data roaming progress is essentially a (significant) improvement in upload and download speed, sourced from your mobile network.

Download speed of 5G

In this sense, one could say that 5G is truly an impressive achievement over 4G. Throughout different instances of post-release speed testing, 5G has shown download speeds of up to 2 GB a second, some 15 – 20 times more than its predecessor. This would mean that you could download a 1 hour HD episode of your favourite TV series in less than 5 seconds.

At this stage, one’s mind can begin to wonder towards the eventual setbacks which one may encounter throughout these stages, and most notably, in the ultimate – 5G stage.

Importantly, to account for the extreme velocity of download that 5G permits, the waves of this broadband network stage have to be of proportionally high frequency, as opposed to the progressively lower frequencies of waves in 4G and 3G.

With some exploration of physics, one will quickly understand the inevitable limitation of this new invention, which is the same as with any high frequency wave. On the contrary to low frequency ones, 5G will have a harder time travelling far through space and otherwise passing through objects.


This means that in order to be able to maintain the connection, an impressive amount of 5G poles need to be set up around every corner of your city. Admittedly, quite a daunting and expensive task when projecting it on a global scale.

In this line of logic, we can also understand why 3G in contrast is easiest to “catch” at any point in your geolocation, owed to the large area of effect of its low frequency transmission waves.

Practically, several experiments were already conducted on the stability of the 5G connection, in which mostly, moving more than 50 meters from a 5G pole resulted in a loss of connection and a reconnection to the previous, 4G stage. Likewise, maintaining connection to a 5G network for prolonged periods of time seems to overheat the current phones, with the battery quickly giving out under pressure of this high frequency barrage.

The 5G revolution

In 2021, there has been some significant chipping away at the monumental project of engulfing the world in the 5G revolution, however with the acknowledgement of the above mentioned limitations, it’s clear that for most cities, it will take several more years for 5G to take its course.

On another note, one can begin to question the health & safety implications of installing ubiquitous phone poles around the cities, designed to perpetually blast you with high frequency tele-waves. It appears not unthinkable, that with consistent exposure to such a phenomena, the longterm effects might be similar to those of radiation; leading in consequence to outcomes such as cancer, or otherwise unwanted mutations.

Truly as of yet, it is too early to speculate on the matter, but nonetheless, a hidden danger may be lying in wait if we are too ignorant.

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