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By - Adedoyin Shittu

Posted - 10-06-2019

Imagine getting a response from a command at the now. With 5G, it takes a millisecond to get a response to an inputted command; that is 400 times faster than the blink of an eye.

Wireless network have gone a long way from the days of humble beginning of the first generation (1G) of wireless network. The 1G brought the first cell phone into the market. The 2G brought the texting experience while the 3G brought us online. Today the speed of the internet we experience was delivered by the 4G.

5G refers to the fifth generation of the cellular technology.

It takes about 26 hours to download a 2 hours movie with 3G, with 4G it takes about 6 minutes and it will only take 3.6 seconds to download the same 2 hours movie on 5G.

5G is 10 to 100 times more faster than 4G with a minimum speed of 1 Gigabyte per second and a maximum speed of 20 Gigabyte per second.

Also 5G is also about network density, with this new wave of technology, more devices can be connected to the network at the same time without slowing down the system. A million devices can be connected within one square meter without slowing down the system. 5G is also about latency, information gets to the user with a lag time of just a millisecond but 5G goes beyond the internet experience of consumers.  

The fifth generation of network will transform machine-to-human and machine-to-machine communication. It brings us to the realms of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous driving.

Cars can now be self driven cars because of the continuous stream of data provided by the 5G network. The 5G will now be capable of providing vehicle to vehicle communication faster than we can blink. These self driven machines will be able to exchange speed, acceleration, direction, and location with a latency of one millisecond.

Just as 5G will allow self-driving cars to talk to each other, the technology will do the same for drones, ensuring the devices zoom above our heads without incident.

The 5th generation of cellular network will be the foundation for virtual reality; users will be  immersed in a virtual world created by a computer generated environment.

5G will revolutionise the whole industries with its speed, latency and density and it holds a lot of promise but the truth is, expert cannot tell us the full capacity of the 5G network because they do not even know yet.

With the introduction of the 5G into the market, the future has arrived as the technology is capable of controlling robots, medical devices, industrial equipment and agriculture machineries.


There are five new technology emerging as the foundation of the 5G network. These are the millimeter waves (mmWaves), small cells network, massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), beam forming and full duplex.

Information is carried in airwaves all around us and wireless communications through the first four generations have worked with essentially limited bandwidth while trying to serve a fast growing number of users. With the increasing services required by the users and the expanding mobile services, the network is running out of bandwidth due to congestion from TV and radio signals as well as the 4G LTE signal.

In a bid to serve more people and expand mobile services without slowing down the system, the 5G wireless network developers aim to greatly increase the amount of bandwidth available by using frequency spectrum in the millimeter-wave frequency range of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. The term mmWave refers to a specific part of the EM spectrum between 24GHz and 100GHz, which have a very unused short wavelength. The high-frequency bands cover much smaller areas but can carry much more data. This is because the higher you go in frequencies, the faster speed you can achieve and at higher frequency, wavelength gets shorter.

Smaller antennas will be used in mobile handsets to transmit and receive these higher-frequency signals

At such higher frequencies of the 5G, electromagnetic (EM) energy suffers a great deal of signal strength when passing through the air (especially through air with high humidity) compared to lower-frequency signals with longer wavelengths. Lower frequencies are able to bend around obstacles.

Signals can be absorbed by rain and any objects such as trees and buildings in the path of the propagating waves. Even the hand of the person holding the phone can block the signal of the wave.

This shortcomings makes the propagation distances for mmWave frequencies to be less as compared to signals at the lower frequencies traditionally used in cellular networks.

To combat this, a network infrastructure with thousands of low power mini base stations will have to be erected by network companies to cover the same signal, rather than the huge, geographically dispersed cell towers that characterize LTE networks and its predecessors. These base stations are closely suited together and they form a relay teams that transmits signals around obstacles. They can be put on the side of buildings, utility poles, apartment rooftops, etc and they contain small cells that transmit and receive data on the 5G network covering a certain area. So the idea of 5G is replacing high power, low frequency towers with low power, high frequency small cells that communicate with a base station.

A massive MIMO that can support a hundred stations of cells is also used in the 5G technology to increase the capacity of the network by a factor of over 22. The MIMO base station receives these signals and keep track of the timing and direction of their arrival. Instead of a serious interference of signals because information is broadcasted in every direction at once, a signal processing algorithm is used to triangulate exactly where each signal is coming from. Then the best transmission is plotted back through the air as a focused stream of data in the form of a beam of information and sent back to the user that sent the information. This is called BeamForming.

Full duplex technology doubles the capacity of the 5G technology by making it possible for a transceiver to transmit and receive data at the same time, on the same frequency, or operate on different frequencies if a user wishes to transmit and receive information at the same time. This feat was achieved by developers when they assembled silicon transistors that act like high-speed switches to halt the backward roll of these waves, enabling them to transmit and receive signals on the same frequency at once.  This technology will deliver data with less than a millisecond of delay as compared to about 70 ms on today’s 4G networks. It will also bring peak download speeds of 20 gigabits per second.

While this technology is considered revolutionary, it’s also going to be expensive as carriers will have to upgrade their infrastructures in order for 5G to travel on super high frequencies airwaves. They can’t travel through walls, windows and get weaker over long distances.

“This is probably going to be a big problem for operators in terms of how exactly they’re going to roll it out – it is going to be very expensive,”

Also Read:  The Future of Jobs : The Start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Part 1)


To know how safe the 5G technology, you need to know about radiation. Radiation can either be ionizing or non-ionizing.

Ionizing radiation are high energy radiation capable of knocking out election from a body it comes in contact with, thereby exciting the body to a higher energy level. This is because it is made up of energetic subatomic particles, ions or atoms moving at a very high speeds.

Ionizing radiation occur above ultraviolet light namely the X-rays and gamma rays. These can damage your DNA by knocking electrons out of the base molecules, leading to tumors and cancer.

5G technology uses radiation in the lower frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum namely the radio frequency, In fact, we are constantly bathing in background radiation, like cosmic rays from the sun which occurs at higher wavelength of the spectrum called the visible light.

5G signals do not penetrate human skin and bone. Most of the radiation in this range of frequencies is in the form of heat, which does not disrupt or destroy human tissue during transmission of radio waves.

Certain non-ionizing wavelengths can still be bad for you when you are exposed to them at an extremely high power level because it heats up the system it is exposed to

Critics of the 5G have raised the argument that the 5G bandwidth rolled into the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum and this spectrum is used in the microwave oven to heat up food.

While that is true, there is a difference between a small cell and an oven. Microwave ovens use high energy to cook food from the inside out. Small cells use low energy to transmit and receive radio signals.

Another issue about the large number of 5G small cells was raised. These cells will be used  continuously transmitting wireless signals that bombard its surroundings. However the issue is that when you deploy a system of 5G small cells, they use beamforming to concentrate signal transmission rather than broadcasts. The data is focused on the sender rather than been broadcasted in the environment.

There is no compelling evidence that links the use of radio signals usage in smart phones with brain tumor or any other form of cancer. Neither have research found smartphones unsafe for public use, most critics use conspiracy theories to justify their claim.

5G technology will inadvertently have an effect on the environment. This is because it is a low range frequency that can be obstructed by obstacles. To allow the 5G frequency to travel further, obstructions such as massive trees in cities might have to be uprooted to allow it to work.  Also the effect of the technology to animal life have not been studied.


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