The fifth generation cellular network technology or 5G is a new standard for wireless broadband digital communication or cellular network communication. The general technological principle is straightforward: wider spectrum allocation and the use of higher frequencies for higher bandwidth, faster data transmission speed, and reduced network latency.
Pros of 5G: Advantages and Notable Applications
5G supersedes true 4G and 4G and LTE Advanced cellular network technologies. It promises to support modern and future wireless communication applications through more reliable mobile connectivity and faster broadband internet speed. This supports modern applications that require high-speed internet access and huge amounts of data transmission Below are the advantages or benefits and applications of this cellular network technology:
1. Better Capabilities than 4G and 4G LTE Technologies
There are considerable differences between the 5G standard and the previous 4G and 4G LTE standards in terms of network capabilities and performance. The fifth-generation standard has a wider spectrum allocation and uses higher frequencies of electromagnetic radiation within the upper limits of radio waves and the range of microwaves.
It is important to underscore that data transmission speed is partly dependent on frequency levels and wavelengths. Higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths translate to better data transmission speeds. This comes from the fact that a higher frequency is associated with a faster movement of signal-bearing electromagnetic waves.
An advantage of 5G is that it runs on two different network specifications. These are the upper limits of the sub-6 GHz specification and the mmWave specification. A particular 5G network can use frequencies between 3.3 GHz and 4.2 GHz or within the frequencies above 24 GHz or the UHF and EHF areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.
This standard can provide a 1 Gbps bandwidth compared to the 200 Mbps bandwidth of 4G. It also can demonstrate a network latency of fewer than 10 milliseconds compared to the 20 to 30 milliseconds latency of its predecessor. Data transmission is between 50 Mbps and 200 to 400 Mbps compared to the 25 Mbps average speed of 4G LTE.
2. Faster and Reliable Connectivity Means Better Streaming
Bandwidth, in digital communication, is the maximum amount of data transmitted over a network in a given amount of time while network throughput pertains to how much data was transferred from a source at a particular given time. Network latency represents the time it takes for data to be transmitted between its source and its destination.
The terms above determine overall network quality. Wired digital communication has better values than wireless digital communication. However, because of the capabilities of the 5G standard, it could rival fiber-based wired internet services in these three areas and support novel and more advanced wireless communication applications.
It can support a range of streaming applications. These include the consumption of content such as high-definition video streaming from platforms and services such as Netflix, online-enabled or cloud gaming services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, and video conferencing using platforms such as Zoom Meetings, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
3. Support for Advance and Future Internet Applications
Another benefit of 5G centers on advancing the scope of wireless digital communication. Take note that several network service providers have rolled out 5G-enabled wireless internet service or wireless broadband service for residential customers. It is positioned as a counterpart to wired broadband internet service based on fiber optics technology.
It also supports the deployment and adoption of autonomous vehicles. Some of the important features of these vehicles depend on an internet connection. Examples include obtaining and processing real-time traffic information and downloading maps for navigation. 5G enables better vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-traffic communications
Support for the implementation of smart cities could also be made possible under a fifth-generation cellular network. It can enable the integration of smart devices in public infrastructure to allow autonomous and wireless operations, data gathering, and assimilation of public infrastructures with other wireless communication devices
The technology can also enhance other existing technologies or expand further their adaptation. These include better native support for mixed reality or virtual reality and augmented reality, various on-device applications of the metaverse, remote medical diagnostics and remote surgery, telecommuting or remote work, and cloud computing services.
Cons of 5G: Disadvantages and Key Limitations
The expansion of fifth-generation networks across the world began in 2019. Providers of network services have invested in building and expanding their 5G infrastructure and capabilities. Most smartphones produced beginning in 2021 are now compatible with these networks. However, despite its advantages, the following are the disadvantages of 5G:
1. Expensive Initial Rollout and High Public Adoption Costs
Costs represent one of the disadvantages of 5G. Network deployment would require cellular network carriers or operators to both upgrade existing network infrastructures and build new ones to meet the 3GPP standard. These also require purchasing new equipment, securing new licenses, and leasing public spaces and private properties.
Take note that cellular network operators must also integrate and use other relevant wireless technologies such as Multi-User MIMO, Massive MIMO, and beamforming, The barrier to entry for local network operators remains in developing and underdeveloped countries high because of the high initial cost, knowledge, and other resource requirements.
Adding to this is the fact that the market in these countries might not be able to afford equipped mobile devices. Even most flagship smartphones from 2019 and mid-range smartphones from 2020 and earlier will not run on fifth-generation networks. Consumers need to purchase capable devices to experience the advantages of 5G technology.
2. Sub-6 and mmWave Difference and Limitations of mmWave
Another problem with 5G is that it is based on two different specifications. Sub-6 uses different technologies and works on distinctive principles than mmWave. A Sub-6 modem would not be able to connect to a mmWave network. Some devices have modems for both specifications but most are compatible with either one of the two and cannot utilize both
The C-Band 5G also falls under the Sub-6 5G standard. Mot all 5G networks and 5G devices are the same. Consumers would need to know if the devices they are planning to purchase are compatible with the 5G network in their area. It is better to purchase one that supports both considering the differences between these two specifications.
It is also important to note that mmWave 5G is superior to sub-6 5G in terms of bandwidth, network latency, and data transmission speed. It is the closest rival to wired broadband internet and fiber-based wired communication. But there is one drawback. The mmWave specification has a limited range and coverage because it uses higher frequencies.
Network operators would need to build and place hundreds to thousands of smaller cells to cover an entire area. This has cost implications. Some have expressed concern over the unappealing placements of these cells. These issues and limitations of mmWave make it ideal for dense urban areas or particular target spots like stadiums and airports.
3. Limited Real-World Performance and High Power Draw
Another disadvantage of 5G is that the theoretical transmission speeds do not translate to actual performance. There is also a mismatch between upload and download speeds. Upstream transmission is slower than downstream transmission. Factors such as congestion level, cell site proximity, and device capabilities affect the network performance.
It is also important to reiterate the fact that the Sub-6 specification is slower than the mmWave specification. There are instances in which an LTE Advanced network can provide the same level of overall network performance as a Sub-6 5G network. This is true in dense areas or certain spots within a particular area with high network traffic.
Another disadvantage of 5G is that it consumes a lot of power. The battery runtime of a mobile device would be shorter while connected to this network than a connection to 4G LTE and 3G networks. This is a problem for mobile devices running on batteries with small charge capacities. Heating issues have also been observed in some devices.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- 2021. “Electromagnetic Radiation: Characteristics and Properties.” Konsyse. Available online
- Kumar, A. and Gupta, M. 2018. “A Review on Activities of Fifth Generation Mobile Communication System.” Alexandria Engineering Journal. 57(2): 1125-1135. DOI: 1016/j.aej.2017.01.043
- Parkvall, S., Dahlman, E., Furuskar, A., and Frenne, M. 2017. NR: “The New 5G Radio Access Technology.” IEEE Communications Standards Magazine. 1(4): 24-30. DOI: 1109/mcomstd.2017.1700042
- Zada, M., Shah, I. A., & Yoo, H. (2021). “Integration of Sub-6-GHz and mm-Wave Bands With a Large Frequency Ratio for Future 5G MIMO Applications.” IEEE Access. 9: 11241-11251. DOI: 1109/access.2021.3051066