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What is 5G?: The Ultimate Guide

A new and unprecedented wireless service is coming to town. 

Initially working together with 4G networks, 5G technologies are set to change life as we know it.


What is 5G?

5G service is advanced wireless technology; it provides a method for all devices to send and receive data without being plugged into a wall.

It took 15 seconds to download a 5MB MP3 file via 3G connection, but with 5G, an entire movie can be downloaded in a few seconds.

5G is the evolution of 4G LTE networks; designed to accommodate the very large growth in the amount of data and connectivity needed in today’s modern world.

At first, it will operate in conjunction with existing 4G networks before becoming a fully standalone network.

While 3G networks enjoyed a typical response time of 100 milliseconds and 4G around 30 milliseconds, 5G speeds will be as low as 1 millisecond, opening up a whole new world of connected applications.

The start of 5G services has already commenced in many countries throughout 2019, and widespread availability is predicted by the year 2025.

In October 2019, 5G phones were already in the hands of 4 million Koreans, and in China, 150 million 5G mobile subscribers are expected by next year. At the end of 2019, nine companies were planning on shipping 5G phones.

Verizon in the United States, Optus in Australia, three operators in the UK and others have already supplied indoor hubs, and just about every major telco in developed countries has made strides in deploying 5G coverage or are making plans to deploy.

How does 5G work?

The deployment will begin with most operators initially integrating 5G networks with their existing 4G networks in order to provide a continuous connection.

It will require new hardware, for both networks mobile devices, to make them compatible with the 5G New Radio (NR) standards.

To meet the ever-growing data needs of people, it is created to use an expanded range of spectrum between 600 MHz and 100 GHz, and unlike LTE wireless networks, 6G uses three different spectrum bands: 

Low-band spectrum, the band used for LTE, is almost depleted. It offers a good coverage area and wall penetration, but the maximum data speeds reach around 100Mbps.

Mid-band spectrum provides faster speeds and lower latency than low-band, but does not penetrate buildings as effectively as low-band spectrum. It can reach maximum speeds of 1Gbps.

High-band spectrum offers peak speeds up to 10Gbps, with very low latency, but offers low coverage and poor penetration of buildings, relying on many small cells, which are low power base stations covering small geographic areas.

What will it mean for consumers?

It acts as a backbone for billions of devices, and we’re not simply talking about computers, laptops, tablets and phones, but driverless cars, household appliances and hospital equipment, connecting more devices, faster.

Current smartphones will not support 5G so mobile phones with new technology will be developed.

Innovative ideas that will become a reality with 5G include:

  • Advanced AR and VR
  • Driverless cars
  • Remote robotics
  • Alerts to schedule repairs of appliances
  • Energy efficiency
  • The potential for enhanced city safety
  • Interconnected transport systems
  • Enhanced healthcare 
  • Monitoring by IoT devices in agriculture
  • Advanced gaming
  • Industrial automation

Pitfalls of 5G

The flip side to it is that we have no proof that 5G is safe for humans.

There is a huge debate about the safety of 5G – some say it’s safe, but almost 300 scientists have signed an appeal calling for stronger electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure limits.

Scientific American says, “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

Right now, because it is a new network technology, no research on health effects has been conducted, but what we do know is the harmful effects of 2G and 3G

While cancer is the primary concern of 5G, there is significant evidence that RFR causes neurological disorders and reproductive harm, to name a few.


5G is being deployed as we speak; perhaps not in your country or city yet, but it’s coming, and rapidly. And with it comes a host of new technology and connections.

And what comes after 5G? Well, 6G of course…

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