In the 1980s, 1G made it possible to make a call over a wireless network. Since then, with 2G, 3G and then 4G LTE, it has been possible to send SMS messages, access the Internet or watch videos on your phone at increasingly high speeds. But what about 5G? This 5th generation of wireless network holds a lot of promise. What are the features and impacts of 5G? Take a look.
5G, an avatar of 4G ?
In the digital age, wireless networks are constantly evolving to meet the needs of individuals and businesses. So, is 5G just a continuation of previous generations ?
The average throughput of 4G is between 30 and 45 Mbps. The 5G data rate is 10 to 100 times faster. We are talking about 1 Gbit/s for downloading and 300 Mbit/s for sending data. This is very high speed even if it is obtained under optimal conditions and remains theoretical for the moment. But there is no doubt that operators will easily surpass the performance of 4G. The 5G therefore allows more data to be transported in the same time interval.
This is the delay between the time you send a request and the result appearing on your screen. The latency promised by 5G is about one millisecond, 10 times less than 4G. Navigation becomes much more responsive.
More connected objects
Another promise of 5G is to reach 1 million networked devices per km2. This performance will support the 50 billion connected objects in circulation by 2025.
How does 5G work ?
5G will succeed 4G LTE, but does not work quite the same way. It therefore needs a specific antenna array and frequencies to work.
The 5G uses three types of frequencies.
- When deployed, 5G shares the same frequency bands as 4G LTE. But 5G-compatible mobile phones will provide better throughput than 4G even though they all use the same antennas and frequencies.
- At the same time, 5G is starting to move into the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz frequency bands.
In the final version planned for 2025, 5G will use the 24 to 27.5 GHz bands. These bands have been reserved until now for satellites or military affairs.
The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength. For this reason, frequencies from 24 to 27.5 GHz are also called millimetre waves or mmWave: their wavelength is in the order of a millimetre.
By comparison, radio waves are measured in metres or kilometres.
Operators will need to deploy a specific antenna array. These are Massive MIMOs. Equipped with numerous connectors, these antennas can reach more users in a targeted way.
And to bridge the short range of millimetre waves, miniature or Small Cells antennas will be installed in addition, hidden in urban equipment: bus shelters, metro stations, public lighting, etc.
Impacts of 5G
5G fascinates by its capabilities, but it worries at the same time.
The extraordinary performance of the 5G increases the number of connected objects and improves the control of phones, computers, cars and other objects in the professional or private domain.
Multiple applications will see the light of day:
- Advanced home automation
- autonomous machines
- the intelligent city
5G can revolutionize telemedicine. Using an augmented reality headset, a surgeon can operate on a patient who is on the other side of the world.
To date, all applications are treated in the same way by the mobile network. We talk about a neutral network. With 5G, each application will use the frequencies best suited to its use. The one that gives the weather forecast will not be able to use the fast frequencies reserved for more strategic applications.
A higher power of the electromagnetic waves emitted
According to a document obtained from the ANFR https://www.ondes-expertise.com/antennes-relais/puissance-reelle-emission-5g (French National Frequency Authority), the power of the electromagnetic waves emitted by a 5G antenna would be twice as strong as the sum of the other antennas. These measurements were taken on a building in Marseilles where 2G, 3G and 4G antennas are located next to a 5G antenna in a frequency band between 3.7 and 3.8 GHz.
What will be the power of these waves when the 5G uses a 25 GHz frequency?
Should we protect ourselves from 5G ?
It is still early to say that 5G has a negative impact on health. Even the ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) cannot yet determine its health effects. It lacks data on the two new frequencies that 5G will use.
Some contradictory elements
Here are a few observations.
- In 2011, the WHO classified electromagnetic waves as a "possible" human carcinogen.
- Some scientists rely on a study by the American National Toxicology Program to express fears about millimeter waves: risk of cancer, increase in harmful free radicals, etc.
- On the other hand, the ANFR claims that 5G phones will not emit more waves than current mobile phones.
What about electro-sensitive people?
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There is not enough hindsight at this time to confirm or deny the dangerousness of 5G. What is certain is that this wireless network is being deployed around the world. It's a huge area of application.
Nevertheless, it is important to arm ourselves against the possible harmfulness of 5G. Combating the free radicals responsible for ageing, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers is one of the measures to be taken.
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How about you? What does 5G mean to you?