5G (fifth-generation) is the newest and most talked about advancement in communications technology. It will allow us all to access the internet and various services faster than ever before.
In comparison to 4G, its slower, older brother, this new generation claims to revolutionise how we communicate. This is a bold statement considering all of humanity has been built on better and better communication techniques. From the simple pigeon, to Marconi, to Graham-Bell, the world has become used to faster and easier ways of communication which we now take for granted. But what is 5G and how will it improve your life?
It promises speeds of up to 20Gbps, which is 100 times faster than 4G! These high speeds allow better streaming of videos and improved latency. The latter is rather important because this is the time taken between a signal being sent to one being received, 4G operates at 50 milliseconds whereas 5G can give one millisecond. This is a colossal step up considering that the human brain has a 10 millisecond wait between seeing something and it being processed. This will allow driverless cars better reaction timing to events on the road making them safer and more of a reality than science-fiction. In addition to this, you would be able to stop blaming “lag” for the reason why you suck at video games…
This seemingly real time streaming of images and videos will allow more accurate keeping of the stock market which is crucial for our modern day economy. Education will also benefit from it because this high speed allows new ways to educate in the classroom in the form of augmented and virtual reality. Truly creating a classroom of the future! Research institutions will also be able to have this seemingly immediate access to knowledge, speeding up new ideas and advancements.
So when can you get your hands on this modern day marvel? The answer is sooner than you think. The United States has had this capability since early 2019 and many multi-billion dollar companies like Verizon and AT&T have already began putting up comms towers allowing its users access to this supreme connectivity. However, the United Kingdom, once again, is late to the party unlike its neighbors across the Atlantic, as the UK has only just begun to set 5G into motion. Companies like EE and O2 already have this active in London, and it is planned for other cities but will take time to come into full swing. Unfortunately, York is not going to be capable of this just yet.
Its better speed is a result of operating at high frequencies ranging from 24GHz to 72GHz. This high range allows the higher speeds because not much operates in this range, leaving lots of room to allow high speed. This is known as having a large bandwidth. However, with all good things there are unfortunately some bad.
Many experts claim that these higher frequencies will result in increased cancer rates. This is rather concerning given that nine out of ten people own a smartphone. The electromagnetic (EM) radiation emitted from comms towers has been a concern for a long time now, claiming to give many headaches and causing tiredness. The higher frequency means that it is less capable of penetrating objects like walls so more towers will have to be built per square area than its legacy 4G would. Moreover, officials at NASA and the Met Office have stated that meteorological measurements will become affected due to the bandwidths overlapping, causing interference thus making weather forecasts less accurate (not that they are ever true anyway).
But how does this relate to the recent spike in beliefs that 5G is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic? A quickly growing cell of conspiracy theorists are saying that the EM radiation from antennas, outlined above, is to blame for causing the symptoms of COVID-19. The theorists began to ask why antennas were still being erected, but this is because network engineers are considered to be essential workers, due to telecoms being a crucial part of the UK’s infrastructure. This quickly became a trending phenomena on social media platforms but was swiftly debunked by UK telecom companies and leading scientists at the WHO.
5G is yet another modern day creation that has come under scrutiny for its potential health concerns, but also praised for its head-turning benefits for society and standards of living.
I believe it’s too late to stop the tsunami that is 5G, as it is already underway, but its promises outweigh its risks tremendously. It’s only a matter of time before every person is able to get their hands on this new and fancy technology.