By Lauren Young
Verizon Wireless is launching the 5G network nationwide in 2018, which will mean increased data capacity, fewer delayed connections and longer battery life for phone users.
4G is currently the standard network used by smartphones. While 5G will not replace 4G LTE technology, it will enable a larger diversity of applications that 4G cannot perform. The high-speed mobile phone network offers up to 50 times the bandwidth currently available on 4G networks, which will allow users to download the equivalent of three television episodes per second.
So, what exactly does 5G mean for you?
For one, it means faster speed. 5G will reduce download times to mere nanoseconds, resulting in speeds 50 to 100 times faster than current 4G speeds. While today’s 4G base stations contain a dozen ports for antennas to handle all the cellular traffic, incoming 5G base stations will be able to support about 100 ports, which means more signals can be sent and received from more users at once.
“In addition to speed, 5G will also bring much lower latency,” said David Weissman, Verizon Wireless’ northeast public relations manager. Latency, which refers to delayed messages and signal sending, will also be “very important for evolving technologies such as 3D robotics and surgery,” said Weissman. These complex tasks could benefit from 5G as they would allow real-time commands to be issued and received instantly.
Another key feature of the transition from 4G to 5G is a change in network architecture. Providers are currently experimenting with broadcasting on millimeter waves, which use higher frequencies than the radio waves that have long been used by mobile phones. One major drawback to these waves is that they cannot easily penetrate through buildings, which will make 5G’s new technology of small cells useful, explained Weissman.
Small cells are miniature base stations that require minimal power to operate, and compared to traditional cellular towers, these small cells can be bolted to light poles and the sides of buildings rather than requiring separate towers.
“Local towns and cities will have their own permitting statutes in place when it comes to when and where the base stations will be placed,” said Weissman.
In Fayetteville recently, which does not currently have any laws in place prohibiting 5G base stations, a special use permit for a wireless base station to be set up on a utility pole was turned down by the Fayetteville Planning Board on Oct. 2 of last year. The permit was for a personal residence on Woodmancy Lane.
“It was not approved,” said Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olsen.
The New York Senate Bill S6687, originally proposed in 2017, is currently in committee to prohibit the attachment of small cells to existing utility in certain circumstances.
The rollout of 5G will be a gradual process rather than an immediate one, taking place over a period of years rather than all at once.
Its launch will first arrive as residential 5G broadband with a “fixed connection,” said Weissman, “meaning that it will be for individual homes and residences.”
While faster internet and better connection is always a plus, some cell phone users are becoming concerned about the effects of cell phone radiation and how it could harm them in the long run.
Multiple studies released have indicated possible health risks associated with 5G radiation. In a 2013 study performed by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researchers found that when 60 GHz waves and radio waves penetrated skin, it could increase the risk of skin disease, inflammation and possibly cancer. In 2011, the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation as a class 2B carcinogen.
While some studies provide insight on the physiological impact of 5G, additional research is still required to confirm its negative impacts.
5G testing will begin in Sacramento, Calif., and will later be tested out at five undetermined locations toward the end of the year. “The phones of today are simply not 5G ready,” said Weissman. “We’re still in the early stages of everything.”
The launch is expected toward the middle of the year. Mobile carriers have not yet released the proposed rates of 5G yet.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.