Once upon a time, there was no internet. (Shocking, we know right?)
Well, most of us millennials have those unforgettable childhood memories where we had to disconnect the house phone just to go online on our Windows 98 computer for a while, whilst our mother would shout from the other side of the house to “get off the internet” because she wanted to make a call. How time flies, isn’t it?
We can all agree, however, that the snail-moving internet days are way behind us (thankfully), and we now live in the magnificent world of Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and now, wait for it… yes, 5G!
The phrase once known as “get off the internet I want to use the phone” is now being translated to “What’s the Wi-Fi password please?” and from drawing weird-looking art on Microsoft’s paint, we can now do almost anything on our smartphone with just a touch.
Now, we know you know what the internet is (duh, you’re on it right now reading this awesome article), so we won’t go ahead and bore you with all of that information.
But, many of you wonder “How much faster can the internet go?”, “Isn’t 4G good enough?” or even “is 5G dangerous?”. Well, if you have a similar question to these ones, keep reading because we got your back, and we will explain everything you need to know.
3G Vs 4G
Just a quick recap on the “G’s” (before we get to the good stuff), 1G refers to the first generation of wireless cellular technology (mobile telecommunications). These are the analog telecommunications standards that were introduced in the 1980s until being replaced by 2G digital telecommunications.
The main difference between the two mobile cellular systems (1G and 2G), is that the radio signals used by 1G networks are analog, while 2G networks are digital. So basically, the 1G could only make calls, and the 2G could also send SMS, and MMS. (Remember those bad boys on your Nokia 3310? So do we.)
Now, moving on to today’s 3G and 4G, 3G and its 2Mbit/s (or 0.25 megabytes per second) data came in at around the time the first wave of smartphones arrived in shops. It’s not that fast but it gave wireless access to the internet which was the first step, making video calling possible (even though it would freeze and unfreeze, like, most of the time).
A relatable BBC article (which you can find by clicking here), compares the 3G to 4G networks and how the faster speeds meant that mobile gaming was brought to a whole new level. To give you some perspective and context, a film that would have taken you more than five hours to download on 3G, supposedly takes less than 8 minutes on 4G.
Speaking of apps, games and movies, since we all download them and we no longer rent them from our neighborhood’s local DVD store (feeling old yet?), let’s take a look at just how long it might take to download your average app with the various download speeds of mobile network generations. The table below and related article can also be found here.
App Download Time
|Time to Download|
|3G||45 seconds-1 minute|
Well, okay, we don’t know exactly how fast the 5G service will be cause they’re still working on that, but the point is, it will definitely be the fastest we had so far.
To 5G or Not to 5G?
Simply said, 5G systems are believed to be smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G. 5G promises mobile data speeds that far outstrip the fastest home broadband network currently available to consumers. With 5G speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G (well, that’s impressive!).
This means that technology will be able to gather all networks on one platform, making the internet use more effective and efficient. It could also facilitate subscriber supervision tools for the quick action, and most likely, will provide a huge broadcasting data (in Gigabit), which will support more than 60,000 connections.
This will make it easily manageable with the previous generations (3G and 4G), and it will be possible to provide uniform, uninterrupted, and consistent connectivity across the world.
Now, you must be thinking, who wouldn’t want even faster and better internet? Well, apparently many people are against it.
While this dramatic increase in bandwidth will have a direct impact on both users and the economy, there is also a downside. Unlike 3G and 4G that had the capability of reaching larger areas, 5G’s reach will be much shorter. Which means to have more bandwidth, we need more towers.
Alvarez Technology Group also explained the pros and cons of 5G, and said that more towers will require more land leases which will increase revenue in a variety of ways, both for the consumer as well as for the cellular companies.
The economic impact of the 5G network will mean more revenue for cellular providers but an increase in the cost of their service because of all the new construction that will be needed to support the network.
Companies, however, are trying to calm down consumers who don’t want to increase the number of cell towers, by explaining that the existing towers will remain in place and be upgraded to handle the increased amount of bandwidth provided by the new 5G network.
Additionally, the radio spectrum which is what the internet travels across, will be even more overloaded than it already is with 3G and 4G. So, even though 5G will dramatically increase the speed at which the internet will function, the stress that it will place on the spectrum as a whole may cause more problems than anticipated.
However, even with the upgrades, more towers will be needed to maintain the connection and ensure that it remains strong and viable (makes sense, right?).
So basically, the addition of new towers will clutter the horizon much like the wind turbines have done in many places, and for those who live in wider areas, there will be a direct impact on their skyline and the outlook of their horizon.
A BBC news story says that 5G works in the very high-frequency range above 6 GHz. In the United States, the 6.000-6.425 GHz range is already occupied by satellite and fixed lines. Between 6.425 and 7.125 GHz, there is a bit of space for mobile lines, but the situation will be even more complicated with the addition of another occupier for the band, namely 5G networking.
And if all this drama wasn’t enough, activists, researchers and health professionals alike have concerns for the high frequency millimeter radio signals that 5G uses.
Since many small cells will be installed in close proximity to people, there must be a concerted effort to further research and evaluate the effects it could have.
There are physicians who warn that the amount of radiation 5G small cells emit can have irreversible effects on people who live or are exposed to these radio waves on a daily basis.
And then comes Dr. David Robert Grimes which is a physicist and cancer researcher, and says that “the radio wave band – used for mobile phone networks – is non-ionising”, which means “it lacks sufficient energy to break apart DNA and cause cellular damage.” “People are understandably concerned over whether they might elevate their risk of cancer, but it’s crucial to note that radio waves are far less energetic than even the visible light we experience every day,” he says.
So when it comes to the “harmful” 5G network, Dr. Grimes argues that “There is no reputable evidence that mobile phones or wireless networks have caused us health problems.”
While the prospect of downloading at 65,000 times the speed of 4G sounds awesome, 5G technology is still a work in progress and still has a lot of potential to be perfected.
Researchers say that we should welcome 5G in 2020, so hopefully by then, we will have a better idea and hopefully realize if we are hurrying ourselves into new mobile technologies that aren’t even necessary, or if 5G will be the best thing that ever happened to humanity (after pizza, that is!).