Let’s discuss 5G one of the latest and greatest mobile networks that they say is going to change our lives forever. As it sounds promising, 5 g will let us download an HD movie in seconds that’s just funny quick, doctors will be able to perform remote surgery with virtually no lag time and it will make self-driving cars smarter and far safer. However, as exciting as it may sound, there are also concerns that 5G would expose us to more violations of security, privacy, and even health problems. So what exactly is 5G, and how many concerns are actually true?
We all know that 3G and 4G are the mobile networks that we are using today and you see them at the top of your phone screen and they give us access to the Internet, but we are now making way for the next generation. 5G is marketed as the best and fastest connection around and is already accessible in some countries. South Korea launched 5G networks last year, as did operators in China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. There are also new 5G phones on the way. Samsung launched the first 5G powered smartphone in 2019 to put commercial 5G to live before any other smartphone manufacturer.
How 5G works?
So here’s the way it works. 5G uses a wide range of radio frequencies from the lower end of the spectrum that we already use for television and Wi-Fi all the way to what is known as millimeter waves that are extremely high frequency and used for items like radar weapons and airport security screening. This means that 5G can carry vast amounts of data faster, and that’s a big reason why we need it. Our mobile networks are running out of space today and soon they won’t be able to handle the rising number of devices that will be used in the future. In addition, there is money to be made, and the governments can earn revenue by issuing 5G licenses. Tech companies around the world are innovating around 5G and it is likely that we will move to 5G because they have invested billions in research and development.
The internet of things come into the picture
The Internet of Things is nothing more than an interrelated network that transfers data without human input. Some devices that we use today, such as smart speakers or exercise equipment, will remember and even anticipate our preferences, and 5 G will allow them to talk to each other at record speeds. It will connect many more devices to the Internet in the same way, possibly without interrupting each other.
The Challenges with 5G
The challenge is coverage with 5G. Although shorter wavelengths hold more information, obstructions like trees and walls block transmission. For 4G transmitters or base stations, they can be a few kilometers away, but with 5G they need to be nearby, which means we need more of them. It is estimated that at least 1 million new towers will have to be built by the US alone. That’s why 5G is really more of a phased roll-out than a launch because all that back-end infrastructure would take years to build. Either we will be seeing the existing systems as a functional substitute or an entire revamp to enable 5G. It’s going to be a massive investment for telecommunications companies offering 5G to everyone. The dilemma in some places is that major telephone companies have just finished building their 4G networks, and they want to enjoy the benefits of the services they have delivered so far and the resources they have made available to their subscribers. They also know that 5G race is not a short-term sprint it’s a very long-term marathon and the race is getting crowded already.
The Huawei issue
Some of the big names in 5 G are Ericsson from Sweden, Nokia and Finland and Samsung from South Korea but one company is well at the forefront today as the largest networked telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world is Huawei. They have tendered contracts around the world to set up 5 g networks, but the Chinese company is not accepted in many countries, and Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Japan have all blocked Huawei from developing their 5g networks. So does the U.S. The Trump administration has even put pressure on the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany to stop them from partnering with Huawei. There’s a clear business explanation for that. Huawei’s been crushing the market, and the Americans want to get in, but the country’s shutting out Huawei because it has more. For the US and other Western nations, the tech giant is a surveillance device for the Chinese government. Chinese law requires these firms to support and assist the vast security apparatus of Beijing. Allegations that the top executives of Huawei reject. They also maintained that Huawei is not in the Chinese government’s side. Huawei is essentially accused of being an instrument in state-sponsored spying by China. That might not be true as after these allegations Huawei proved the opposition wrong by providing the source codes and network backend for inspection. Nothing really came out of it. It seems that the western world is not happily bowing to a company coming out of the east.
5G and public concerns
5 G’s introduction also stirs up a discussion about our own privacy. We are facing a future in which more and more of our basic household products will be linked to the 5 G network. There’s a lot of data being collected, like what you watch on TV, where your car is, and whether there’s someone at home. It’s the details advertisers are after and their data that others might want to exploit and so if you’re buying baby monitors or you’re buying door locks or any other Internet of Things ready tool, it’ll really be a matter of concern if the company is offering privacy or not. This takes us to another question regarding our health. With all the extra radio waves swirling around us, people are worried. As mobile phones first came out, people were worried that they might cause cancer. Even now, there are some questions about the exposure of deep tissues in our brains due to the use of smartphones. But after many scientific studies, the general consensus is that there is no hard evidence to support smartphones having harmful effects on human health, but that has not necessarily been refuted either. It’s the same with 5 G and in fact, some researchers seem to think that the shorter wavelengths of 5 G are far less dangerous than the radiation from devices that we use today. Ironically, the shorter wavelength is less detrimental than longer-range 4G networks.
It’s going to take, maybe 5 to 20 years before we really see 5 G in full effect, and in that time new technology is going to emerge, China says it’s already working on 6G. Is 5G the future or a more superior technology will overshadow it? Will Huawei maintain its dominance by exploring other countries looking for 5G networks? Do we really want 5G even before we have reaped the benefits of 4G? All these questions will be answered as the race to 5G reaches the finish line.