The journey of reaching at 5G from 1G, as it was called after the inception of the second-generation networking, is rather a long one – about 40 years to be specific. 1G was beginning to be enjoyed by people from around the early 1980s.
The History of 5G
2G coming to the market during the 1990s meant a shift from analog voice transmission to a digital one. During this same era, texting became a thing.Large numbers of telephone users were introduced to this new mode of communication. Even today 5G cell towers are being installed in many places around the globe. Still, text messaging remains quiet in use.
With the launch of 3G during the 2000s, the way people thought they can communicate, began to change and how! People were now able to make calls over the internet. 3G also saw the advent of many other devices like tablets and palmtops that supported third-generation networking.
4G is the next step, possibly the most varied one, where most of us belong to. Almost all the devices we use nowadays are 4G compatible. It is definitely a great shift in terms of speed and efficiency. 4G also saw the rise of VoLTE which enabled a far better talking experience.
To understand what a 5G tower exactly is, knowing about the history of mobile networking is important. It acts like an ice-breaker towards your introduction to 5G – the 5th generation technological standard.
What is a 5G tower?
In the world of telecommunications, 5G is the 5th generation of a broadband wireless network technology standard that cellular phone companies started introducing worldwide in 2019, and is the intended successor to the 4G networks that provide most existing cell phones with connectivity. Though 5G towers were initially reported to be widely common to almost every part of the world by 2020, it is now predicted by GSM Association that 5G will have an approximate 1.7 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025.
The crucial advantage of the 5G tower is that it would definitely provide more capacity, proposing higher download speeds, possibly up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). Because of the improved bandwidth, it is anticipated that the network would not only support mobile phones such as current cellular networks but could also be used as general service providers for the internet, laptops, and desktop computers.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding 5G cell towers, a lot of debate regarding their safety and functioning, also questions like “are 5G towers dangerous” have done rounds. We will surely come to that, but before that, let us see how 5G towers function.
The functioning of 5G cell towers
- 5G networks, like any other cellular network, use a system of cell sites, that segregate their territory into small pockets and send encoded data via radio waves. Via either a wired or wireless backhaul connection, each cell site must be linked to a network backbone.
- 5G towers use a form of encoding that is identical to the typical form of encoding that is used by 4GLTE, called OFDM. However, the air interface is configured to have much lower latency and more flexibility than LTE.
- So, what is a 5G tower? 5G uses the same airwaves as 4G, but due to a more effective encoding, the 5G radio system will offer around 30 percent higher speeds. You would hear about the insane gigabit speeds of 5G. This is mainly 5G uses even wider channels than 4G does. It is indeed a much wider highway, but it also calls for bigger, clearer airwave blocks than those in requirement for 4G.
- This is exactly where the frequencies of the higher, short-distance millimeter-wave come in. Although 4G networking, TV stations, satellite companies, or the military occupy the lower frequencies, a large number of new comparatively higher frequencies are available, especially in the US. Therefore, carriers quite obviously, could easily create wide high-speed roads, for 5G to function smoothly, in those areas, at least for the time being, until 5G cell towers roll out completely.
- Qualcomm claims, by using larger bandwidths and new antenna technology, 5G would be able to increase performance by four times, over what 4G can offer us now.
- The aim is to have far higher usable speeds, and higher power per sector, at a latency far lower than 4G. The organizations involved are targeting speeds of 20 Gbps and latency of only 1 ms, at which stage, interesting things like V2X (vehicle to everything communication), improved VR experience, telesurgery, simultaneous translation becomes possible.
Are 5G towers dangerous?
We have discussed how a 5G tower functions, and how it is different from a 4G. Now we shall come to a well-debated area of discussion! Are 5G towers dangerous? Let us see what the American Cancer Society has to say regarding 5G networks. Do they pose any health hazards?
- RF (radio frequency) wavelengths below 6 GHz were in use by earlier generation networks. Few frequencies in this range will be put to use by 5G networks. Although certain higher frequency wavelengths at the lower end of the millimeter-wave spectrum will also be used, ranging from 30 GHz to 300 GHz. Though these RF waves are of more frequencies or are of higher energy than those used by older generations. They are still sources of non-ionizing radiation, so the ability to directly damage DNA is still missing.
- A 5G tower uses higher frequency waves that travel short distances and are incapable of going through structures. Unlike lower frequency waves. Hence, in some locations, 5G towers need several more, smaller versions of base stations or small cells. More so in overly populated areas, which can be fitted almost anywhere. This definitely means the presence of antennas everywhere, especially in close proximity to human beings, all the time.0
- The addition of high-frequency 5G waves to the already infamous 4G network. Also, this means people are in exposure to more RF waves overall, throughout the day.
- The high-frequency RF waves are less capable of entering the human body than the lower ones. So in a way, they may be less likely to have any possible impact on health, so to speak. But this subject has not been well studied so far.
Therefore, the answer to “are 5G towers dangerous?” we can say that at this point, very little research is present to show whether the RF waves in 5G networks are of either greater or lesser concern than the other RF waves in other cellular communication.
The future with 5G
Let’s keep aside unwanted, unverified negative skepticism about 5G tower and their health hazards. Not only will 5G towers boost surfing speed, but it will create a massive 5G Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. It will help interact with billions of connected devices, maintaining a good balance between speed, latency, and cost.