Myths of 5G

Bruce Leith

Blog by: Bruce Leith - 14 / Feb / 2020

5G hype is heating up. The mobile network has already been switched on in multiple areas throughout the UK, and ongoing rumblings in relation to Huawei have pushed it ever further into public consciousness.

But, as with so much in the world of technology, 5G is rife with myths and misconceptions. Here we take a look at some of the biggest.

Myth 1: 5G will totally replace 4G

This is perhaps the most obvious one. Even the least engaged recognise that 5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity after 4G – which rather suggest that it will totally supersede that which came before. But, as reported in CNet, 4G and 5G networks will coexist – indeed, they already are. 5G is building on existing 4G LTE, using updated radios and software.

Myth 2: 5G is all about speeding up smartphone connectivity

Speed is often the most headline-grabbing factor when it comes to stories about networking and wireless connectivity. And yes, 5G should ultimately offer speeds 100 times faster than 4G networks – and this should translate directly into faster connectivity and downloads on consumer smartphones.

However, 5G goes far, far beyond consumers and their smartphones. Once fully rolled out, it will have a massive impact on a huge range of industries and contexts, including the IoT, robotics and self-driving cars.

Myth 3: 5G's power lies in its bandwidth

Conversely, many commentators like to point out that the really transformative aspect of 5G networks is their bandwidth rather than their speed. So, for example, in the consumer context, this means that 5G networks will enable users to access multiple data-rich applications and high-definition content on their mobile devices, and it is this rather than the speed of connectivity which will be really transformative.

There is actually quite a bit of truth to this, but it is important to underline that the real benefit of 5G is its low latency connectivity. This means that 5G does not merely mean being able to transmit more data at once – it means being able to do so at high speeds. We’re talking near-instant data transfer, and myriad exciting applications.

Myth 4: 5G poses health risks

As reported by the BBC, some health concerns have arisen around 5G, suggesting that the high frequency waves it relies on might be associated with health risks including cancer. As reported in the same article, ‘the UK government says "while a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves is possible when 5G is added to the existing network, the overall exposure is expected to remain low". Eating pickled vegetables and using talcum powder sit in the same category as exposure to radio frequency radiation when it comes to assessing potential health risks.

Myth 5: You need 5G to derive value from the IoT

5G repeatedly emerges in discussions regarding the IoT, and there is no doubt that 5G connectivity will bring huge efficiency benefits for IoT deployments. But that doesn’t mean that you need to wait for 5G rollout to move ahead with your IoT projects. There is plenty of value to be derived from the IoT right now, and plenty of IoT use cases do not actually require the combination of high bandwidth, high speed and low latency offered by 5G.


Topics: IoT, 5G

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