An image of 4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology wavelengths

4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology: The Road Ahead (Part 4)

As I mentioned in the previous post, a bigger concern in 4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology is a

As I mentioned in the previous post, a bigger concern in 4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology is a physics problem – more specifically, an electromagnetic spectrum issue. If you’ll recall from your science class days, the electromagnetic spectrum is a collection of all known frequencies in the universe [reference image below]. Here in the United States, the spectrum is tightly regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and frequencies are auctioned off to the highest bidder. If you want to learn more about how this works, check out the FCC’s website.

4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology Wavelengths

Let’s dive in and hopefully, I won’t lose you in the physics behind this – it’s important and the reason why 5G is slow to make any kind of traction. 5G operates at a higher frequency range (called millimeter waves) than legacy technologies. This gives 5G the speed and low-latency capabilities advertised but with a trade-off. Here is where the crux of the problem lies, physics dictates the higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength – which, if you’re keeping up, means higher speeds over shorter distances.

An image of 4G Versus 5G Wireless Technology wavelengths

Well, how short of a distance are we talking about here? Currently, it is about 100 meters. No need to adjust your monitor you read that right, 100 meters or about 300 ft on a clear day with no obstructions. In order to make 5G a reality, we will need millions of “stations” set up all over the country ranging from our neighborhoods to our highways. That’s not all, the signal is so fragile and prone to interruptions that stations will likely be in our houses before too long. Because of its limited scope, fewer subscribers will be able to access from a single cell tower.

I am not one to end on a sour note, but in my opinion, there are too many unanswered questions as to whether or not 5G will ever be more than a pipe dream. Some cities, such as Charlotte, NC, are working with lawmakers to bring 5G to their city for testing autonomous vehicles and other such technologies. It is still in the early stages and it’s proving to be an expensive endeavor. Some telecom companies expect to invest $275 billion into 5G infrastructure by 2025. For now, this technologist is in a holding pattern.

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Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

Jason Claggett

About Jason Claggett

Jason has been engineering complex hardware solutions and transforming outdated company networks into state of the art technology centers for over 15 years. His background with manufacturers and distributors focuses on the evaluation, recommendation, and implementation of technology solutions that enable automation. As a technology expert and senior consultant, Jason is skilled at installing and configuring Manufacturing Execution Systems, shop floor process improvement, and all matter of data interchange and digital automation for SMEs.