All About 5G Technology (1)

Historical Background

History of Wireless Cellular Technology

Way back in the 1950s, the first commercial analog mobile communication system was launched in the US. It had very low market penetration for years after its launch. Formally speaking, the first generation (1G) mobile phone was launched three decades later and continued to use analog signals. With the advent of microprocessors and the dawn of the digital age, analog mobile communication was digitized and we had a second generation of mobile communication (2G) technology enter the picture. 2G was fully digital, i.e., dealing only with 1s and 0s. Besides improving the quality of voice transmission and reception, 2G also introduced SMS—a feature that millennials used with devotedly before instant messengers like WhatsApp arose and changed the social lives of “netizens”.

A couple years later, General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) was added to 2G, which allowed users to browse the internet on mobile devices. Although the speed compared to present-day broadband/4G was extremely slow (even in general, cable internet speed was slow), GPRS gave consumers the first taste of Internet access on mobile devices. At the turn of the new millennium, third generation (3G) tech came into existence, thus allowing users to access the Internet at a decent speed in addition to providing the standard telephone features of voice calls and messaging. Just a few years back, 4G was launched, meaning that internet communication could now happen at a super-fast rate (100Mbps, theoretically) on 4G-enabled devices. Internet penetration in the industrial/commercial segment is much deeper with sensor-based smart devices/appliances being used almost everywhere. Thus, there is a need for technology that has enough bandwidth to cater to the rising number of devices and provide uninterrupted high-speed Internet so that the waiting/processing time is negligible. Such devices include smartphone utilizing the Internet, television, fridge other wearable electronics and even a car.  This is what 5G is designed for.


What is 5G?

We understand the motivation behind the need for 5G, but what exactly is it? Well, 5G is the advanced newest (fifth) generation of mobile cellular technology and is intended to vastly improve the Internet speed, coverage and latency of wireless networks. Speed is usually the most discerning factor between the changing generations of wireless cellular technology. So how fast is 5G, you ask?

Well, it’s tough to give you a precise number, as 5G infrastructure is still a work-in-progress with standards that have yet to be finalized. However, you can roughly assume 5G to be around 10 to 100 times faster than your present-day cellular connection. In fact, it’s even faster than anything you can get with a physical fiber-optic cable. To get a better understanding, think of downloading a 4K movie in a matter of seconds. Yeah, that may seem incredible, but you would probably be able to accomplish that with a 5G system in place.


With any type of 5G connection, you’ll see faster network speeds. Currently, the fastest 4G mobile networks offer around 45Mbps (megabits per second) speeds, although the industry is still hopeful of achieving the sought after 1Gbps (gigabit per second = 1,000Mbps). According to chipmaker Qualcomm, 5G could achieve browsing and download speeds about 10 to 20 times faster than current 4G technologies. Early adopters of 5G technology might not notice vastly higher speeds at first. The true speed you get will on early 5G networks will depend heavily on both the spectrum band the operator chooses to run their 5G technology, and on and how much your carrier has invested in new masts and transmitters.


The global deployment of LTE cultivates the mobile users to be used to the mobile data in their daily life tremendously. The video service and social applications, for example, WeChat, Facebook, and Twitter, have changed our life very much with the capabilities of LTE, especially high data rate and low latency. It is believed that the mobile communication will penetrate into every element of future society and create an all-dimensional, user-centered information ecosystem. A fully mobile and connected society is expected in the near future, which will be characterized by a tremendous amount of growth in connectivity, traffic volume, and a much broader range of usage scenarios. Accordingly, the Mobile Broadband (MBB) service and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the two main drivers in the future development of mobile communications, and they will provide a broad prospect for the next generation mobile communication system (5G), the overall vision of which is depicted. Mobile Broadband service disrupted the traditional business model of mobile communications, enabling unprecedented user experiences and making a profound impact on every aspect of people’s work and life. Looking ahead to the year 2020 and beyond, there will be explosive growth in mobile data traffic. It is estimated that the global mobile data traffic will grow by more than 200 times from 2010 to 2020 and by nearly 20,000 times from 2010 to 2030. In China, the growth factors are projected to be even higher, with mobile data traffic being expected to grow by more than 300 times from 2010 to 2020 and by more than 40,000 times from 2010 to 2030. For developed cities and hotspots in China, the growth of mobile data traffic will exceed the projected average growth for all of China. For example, from 2010 to 2020 in Shanghai, the mobile data traffic is projected to grow by 600 times. In Beijing and during this same period, it is estimated that hotspot traffic may grow by up to 1,000 times. The IoT has extended the scope of mobile communications services from interpersonal communications to smart interconnection between things and between people and things, allowing mobile communications technologies to penetrate into broader industries and fields. Looking ahead to the year 2020 and beyond, applications such as mobile health, Internet of Vehicles (IoV), smart home, industrial control, and environmental monitoring will drive the explosive growth of IoT applications, facilitating hundreds of billions of devices to connect to a network creating a true


Here’s a list of top 5 valuable facts about 5G technology:

1. It helps in development of better business communication

2. It has a better signal communication across the globe

3. It is more important in IoT technology, taking things to get connected to the internet such as a car, fridge and other electronics.

4. It helps in the deployment of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies

5. It has a wide range of fast communication.


1. Deployment and coverage
Despite 5G offering a significant increase in speed and bandwidth, its more limited range will require further infrastructure. Higher frequencies enable highly directional radio waves, meaning they can be targeted or aimed — a practice called beam forming. The challenge is that 5G antennas, while being able to handle more users and data, beam out over shorter distances.

2. Cost to build, cost to buy
Building a network is expensive, and carriers will raise the money to do it by increasing customer revenue. Much like LTE plans incurred a higher initial cost, 5G will probably follow a similar path. And it’s not just building a layer on top of an existing network — it’s laying the groundwork for something new altogether. According to Heavy Reading’s Mobile Operator 5G Capex, total global spending on 5G is set to reach $88 billion by 2023. Once it becomes truly viable, certain device segments will be connected in entirely new ways, particularly vehicles, appliances, robots and city infrastructure.

3. The Radio Frequency May Become a Problem

Radios, cell towers, and even satellites communicate using radio frequencies. Frequency is measured in Hz and the radio frequencies tend to operate in the GHz range. Early reports on the 5G network indicate that this network is going to transmit its data in the range of around 6 GHz. Unfortunately, this radio frequency range is already crowded by other signals, such as satellite links. With numerous types of signals operating in the range of 6 GHz, it is fair to wonder whether or not the overcrowding is going to pose a problem as people try to transmit their data signals at this frequency. Will there be issues sending and receiving signals? Time will tell as this network frequency starts to spread.

4. Health Problems – What We Know About Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF)

The rise of 5G technology will usher in even more wireless devices, not only cellphones and tablets but smart appliances and autonomous vehicles as well. Having 5G means the wireless network can accommodate more users without the speeds slowing down. This also means users are more exposed to harmful electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation that is emitted by these gadgets, not to mention, the 5G towers itself. The NTP study, according to the American Cancer Society, marked “a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk.” It might have reopened the debate on the potential harmful effects of cellphone radiation on people’s health.

Wireless-safety advocates reiterated that there is a need for more research before Americans can start using 5G as there are serious concerns about consumer health safety. For now, they are pushing for the use of protective products such as cases and headsets that will limit the gadget user’s exposure to radio-frequency radiation.

Mohiddeen Ahmad

I am Muhammad Auwal Ahmad (Mohiddeen), a technologist and a writer. I Specifically write on sciences and modern technology. Hit my about page to learn more about me.

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