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What is 5G?

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By EMN Updated: Jun 11, 2021 12:55 am
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India is set to enter into a new era in telecom and new-age technologies, with the anticipated rollout of 5G network by the end of 2021. Most recently, 5G controversy has been doing rounds in the mass media. For instance, bollywood celebrity, Juhi Chawla claimed that 5G technology exposes people and animals to Radio Frequency (RF) radiation and filed a lawsuit against 5G implementation in India, Delhi High Court dismissed the case accusing Chawla of “Publicity stunt” and imposed a fine of Rs. 20 lakhs. On the other hand, it is claimed 5G technology in business will allow businesses to reap the benefits of enhanced mobility, flexibility, reliability and security and many more.  In every innovation, pros and cons are inevitable and so is it in 5G technology.

5G or fifth generation is the latest wireless mobile phone technology. It started in certain parts of the world in 2018. 5G allows much faster internet speed at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). It is 10 to x100 times faster than 4G. It enables more people to use the same network without lags, delays or related problems. From 200 milliseconds for 4G goes down to 1ms (1 millisecond is 1/1000 of a second) for 5G. 5G will take only a few seconds to download HD movies, self-driving vehicles are smarter and safer but there are also doubts that 5G will expose more security breaches, privacy issues and even health problems. 5G uses a radio frequency in the range from the lower end such as TV, wifi and all the way up to millimetre waves having very high frequency which is used for example in security screening airports. This means 5G can carry huge amounts of data faster.

If we look at the previous network and 5G;

1. 1G, the first generation (1979). It delivered an analog voice.

2. 2G, the second generation (1991). It introduced digital voice.

3. 3G, the third generation (1998). It brought mobile data.

4. 4G (2008) brought all IP (voice and data), a fast internet.

5. 4G LTE (for Long Term Evolution) in 2009 doubled speed of data.

According to GSMA (Global Systems for Mobile Communications) Intelligence, 5G has been launched in 60+ countries. The study estimates 551 million subscriptions by the end of 2021 and 1.8 billion by the end of 2025. Despite its overwhelming estimation and enormous transformation to take place in the new-age technological world with the onset of 5G, the challenges it pose might have delayed its rollout in many countries including India.

Since 5G is a recent launced technology, still in early stages and not enough testing done, there might be consequences. It is a challenge to implement a 5G network while 3G and 4G networks are in use for Mobile Network Operations (MNOs). The present technology in most  parts of the world still is not competent with 5G technology and is not compatible with old electronic devices. The infrastructure cost required for its development is very high. Its security and privacy threats are yet to be resolved. 5G is meant to connect a number of sensors virtually such as low power, low throughput (LPLT) networks for low cost IoT(Internet of Things e.g. smart home security systems) on the cost saving side. Shorter wavelengths carry more information but are simply obstructed by trees and walls. In case of 4G transmitters or base stations can be several Kms apart. But with 5G we need more towers and should be closer.

The nation awaits the new network but the internet connectivity in many rural areas continue to be a severe issue. With the world’s pandemic and the lockdowns, communication at all levels seems to soar high through online mode. Even smartphone usage has surged greatly in recent times including the rural areas because it has become a necessity. A big question arises as to if the 5G technology will become inclusive even when the 3G & 4G networks continue to remain a big challenge in many parts of rural areas.

Kashisii Katine Ekhe
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics
Asufii Christian Institute,
Punanamei, Mao

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By EMN Updated: Jun 11, 2021 12:55:50 am