5G– how is it revolutionary?

Wherever the word 5G pops up, people mistake it for just faster mobile network speeds. What they don’t realise is that it also has many real world applications which make it worth investing into.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

A brief explanation:

5G is the fifth generation of wireless network technology with a focus on Internet of Things (IoT). It utilises infrastructure currently in use along with high frequency millimetre waves to transfer more data in a shorter period of time.

However, it should be kept in mind that currently, these high frequency waves have very limited range. In fact, if you want to experience 5G for yourself, then your device has to be in direct line of sight with the network node.

It’s just simple physics at this point. Ever wondered why infrared remotes cannot effectively send signals if there is some obstruction in front of it? It is because infrared waves have smaller frequencies than something like radio waves. Just like a microwave oven does not heat stuff outside of the glass in the front.

The solution?

Building more network towers.

Even though it potentially be unsafe, there are no alternatives at this point. I cannot imagine people paying more money just for getting better speeds by actively looking for 5G towers.

Why it is exciting?

  • Autonomous driving: Imagine a world where self-driving cars are communicating with each other in real time with really low latency which would be of immense help in situations where for example, 2 autonomous cars are en-route a head on collision and by using 5G, are able to turn in the opposite directions instead of having the slightest chance of them both turning in the same direction (which may be likely if the drivers were human or both cars were not able to communicate fast enough).
  • Internet of Things: Almost lag free seamless user experience. Imagine a factory/warehouse where conditions need to be constantly monitored. In such a condition, 5G will significantly improve the monitoring capabilities. Devices like smartwatches, smartphones, and smart home devices will be able to interact with one another in ways previously unimaginable.
  • Virtual reality live streaming: People will be able to experience Augmented/Virtual Reality live high resolution streams both from the comfort of their home and public places.
  • Remote surgical operations: Highly sensitive operations can be conducted with the best doctors from around the world with the help of a low latency and reliable internet connection and robots with godly precision.
  • Drones as a service: Use of drones for surveillance, package delivery.
  • 0 Latency high quality video (sadly still not a reality in 2019)
  • Smart cities: Google currently has plans to develop a smart city on Toronto waterfront.

The list goes on and on…

So is there any problem?

Currently, the radiation from devices being used for 4G/LTE are causing concerns relating to whether or not they can cause cancer. There is very limited evidence that mobile radiation can lead to cancer in humans. According to WHO, radio-frequency electromagnetic fields may be possibly carcinogenic– meaning it may be cancerous. However, the probability of that is the same of pickled vegetables and coffee. In short, research needs to be done to be sure.

Also, with the implementation of 5G, cybersecurity risks are going to expand. As the network will shift towards a software based approach rather than hardware. This will make conducting security checks even harder because of the absence of hardware like routers. On top of all that, the adoption of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) will mean that there’s billions of hackable devices containing highly sensitive data which might get into the wrong hands.

Bottom line.

As if health concerns weren’t enough, the US China trade war has resulted in setback for 5G development as security concerns over Huawei’s equipment increase. In April, Donald Trump made a statement, “The race for 5G is on and America must win”. This points towards a wrong mindset of hastily implementing 5G on a large scale without much thought and consideration.

I think more research needs to be done regarding the concerns mentioned earlier before mass rollout so as to ensure that there are no unwanted consequences from its use. Case in point, WiFi 6, which started rolling out recently with new routers, had many probems ranging from new routers unbale to use OFDMA (technology which enables the WiFi network to be shared spontaneously between multiple devices without any significant drop in speeds).

I would love to see people leverage this new technology to do amazing things.

References:

https://www.sdxcentral.com/5g/

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