5G Explained: How Does it Work?

Image Credit: mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

The major remarkable elements observed in every new generation of wireless network are more functionalities and faster speed. The very first cell phone was ushered in by the first generation of wireless networks known as 1G. Faster speed and more functionality, like texting on the cell phone, was made possible by the 2G network. 3G network made online surfing possible, and the internet speed we enjoy today, is mostly as a result of the 4G network. 


As more users onboard online, and in view of the realities tied to the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution, the speed offered by the 4G network has been tilting towards the need for an upgrade. Hence, the emergence of the 5G network. 

What is 5G Technology?

5G Technology is the next generation of wireless networks. Its distinguishing quality lies in the fact that it is set to offer a speed that is 10x to 100x of what the 4G network offers. 

Imagine downloading an HD movie within the blink of an eye, or seeing YouTube videos as soon as you click on them. These are imaginations which 5G seeks to bring to reality. Other mind-blowing possibilities include virtual reality, self-driving cars, Internet of things (IoT), and many more. This next generation of wireless network is still at its infancy stage. As such, years of research are required to fully understand the potentials of this disruptive technology. 5G is the technology for the fourth industrial revolution, which will bring about the digitisation of virtually everything. This technology will bring smart schools, smart homes, smart cars and many other things into reality. 

5G Use Cases

5G technology possesses numerous use cases, but a few would be examined in this article. 

Improved Mobile Broadband 

This technology will offer unique faster data speeds and unimaginable throughput for worldwide connectivity. New things like fixed wireless internet access for homes, easy and efficient connectivity for people and outdoor broadcast applications that require no van will be available through 5G technology.

Machine to Machine Communication (M2M)

5G technology will play a significant role in the non-human connection of billions of devices, at a rate that has never been seen in human history. This is the main objective of the Internet of Things (IoT). This use case will revolutionize modern industrial processes and applications.

Super-reliable Low Latency Communications.

Low latency is one of the unique attributes of 5G technology. 3G has a latency of 100 milliseconds, 4G responds to commands within 30 milliseconds but with 5G, it involves a latency of 1 millisecond— a speed that can be likened to the flash of a light. This attribute of 5G technology will be applied in critical missions such as real-time control of devices such as drones, industrial Robotics and autopilot cars. It can also be applied in the medical sector, in areas like remote medical procedures, treatment and care. 

How 5G technology Works

Image Credit: mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

For the meantime, 5G network may not fully serve as a standalone network in the sense that some network providers may choose to integrate it with 4G networks for effective and continuous connections. 4G and Wi-Fi networks make use of radio waves and the frequencies obtainable are lower than what can power several devices at a faster rate. 

5G technology makes use of millimeter waves which use high frequencies which range from 30 – 300 gigahertz. Millimeter waves have wavelengths that vary from 1 to 10 millimeters. In spite of the high frequency of millimeter waves, these waves often have a problem of easy absorbance by foliage and buildings. This means that many closely spaced stations will be needed. These closely spaced stations are called small cells. Massive MIMO increases the number of antenna ports in each base station. MIMO here stands for Multiple-input multiple-output. Massive MIMO and Millimeter waves are the major technologies 5G will rely on to deliver lower latency and higher data rate. 

The 5G network is classified into three band speeds known as low, mid and high band speed. Low band has the widest coverage as it can cover hundreds of square miles, but it has the slowest speed. Mid band has lower coverage than low band, but it drives a higher speed. A high band, also referred to as millimeter waves, offers the fastest speed but has the least coverage. With the low band, you can achieve a speed of 30 – 250 megabits per second, mid band can give a speed of 100 – 900 megabits per second. The high band can give a breathtaking speed of 1 – 3 gigabits per second. This simply means that you can download full seasonal movies within a second. 

In Conclusion

It is very clear that 5G technology will bring a massive change in the way we interact with the media, things and people, but, this change will not happen overnight.

About Emmanuel Chibuzor 8 Articles
Lecturer at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture. A Seasoned Writer & Speaker, Certified Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Evangelist.