Are you curious about the 5G network technology and what its pros and cons are? Do you worry whether the benefits outweigh the cons? We understand and will answer. After all, the fifth generation of the broadband mobile network standard for communication is the talk of the town in the late 2010s and early 2020s. It was met with both excitement and concern, especially since most users, especially in developing countries, are still transitioning to 4G. However, the implementation is growing in recent years, and the term is reaching more people globally. Our list of the advantages and disadvantages of 5G shows how beneficial that is.
Advantages of 5G
5G is slowly spreading worldwide, and the reason for that lies in the pros of a 5G cellular network:
1. 5G has a superfast data transmission speed
5G broadband cellular type of network is extremely fast, which is perhaps its biggest upside. We expect 5G to transfer data at least 1 Gbit/s, drastically increasing Internet speed. However, experts theorize that 5G can reach speeds of up to 20 Gbit/s (Gigabits per second) at a peak. Plus, some testing already reached speeds of roughly 7 Gbit/s. However, an average data rate is expected to be over 100 Mbit/s. This is still a vast difference compared to 4G, which reaches speeds of hundreds of Mbit/s at a peak, although some claim it can get up to 1 Gbit/s.
2. It has a low latency
5G has a drastically reduced latency—the period between us giving instruction and when the event occurs, or the time it takes for data to travel between two points in a network. Latency depends on how 5G operates, unsurprisingly. Most tests in the millimeter wave have determined that 5G has a latency of under 50 ms, according to Ericsson research. However, some examinations show that 4G typically stays in the 30 ms to 50 ms range, while 5G can theoretically cut that number down ten times, to 3 ms to 5 ms.
3. Its large bandwidth allows increased simultaneous connectivity
4G introduced frequencies of 800 MHz and 2600 MHz to increase data transfer speed. Then, 5G boosted bandwidth by adding 700 MHz and 3400 MHz to 3700 MHz frequencies in the RF (radio frequency) spectrum, called millimeter waves. This specter used to be limited to short-length guided telecommunication point-to-point connections.
The introduction of 5G microcells up to 1 W in power with a short range, placed every 100 to 300 meters, brings OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) encoding that 4G didn’t have. The cells work together, and thanks to network slicing and high bandwidth, allow permit connecting of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of devices. Each country can delegate certain frequencies for 5G. In the European Union, the 5G range is 24.5 GHz to 27.5 GHz, although that may expand.
4. 5G supports hyperconnectivity through network slicing
5G microcells have a feature called network slicing, allowing them to classify devices into 16 or more categories and assign them adequate resources. For instance, devices streaming multimedia or doing important tasks should get the highest speed. However, smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things) gadgets and sensors will have their speed limited. The increased bandwidth and optimization of connectivity can end the dreaded problem of network throttling. Yet, 5G still ensures optimal performance for each device.
5. It has a versatile application
Because of its extremely high transmission speed, 5G can replace many technologies we use daily. For instance, the fifth generation of this mobile broadband network standard, due to its transition speed, will remove the need for having a lot of storage in computers, TVs, or mobile devices. After all, data can be downloaded in a short period from cloud storage. Additionally, because its speed can be equivalent to or exceed the speed of optical cables, the wireless application of 5G may become its alternative unless the distance is too great. Similarly, we may no longer need to purchase computers with CPUs, RAM, and GPUs, or install the software.
5G can make edge and cloud computing through a terminal a more user-friendly, cheaper, and faster option. The latency makes ultraprecise, ultra-quick remote control possible. For instance, remote transport systems such as automated vehicles without a driver might become an adequate option with a reliable 5G connection and lots of sensors. That applies to factory robots, virtual reality projects, multiplayer gaming, and even medicine. Yes, doctors can theoretically perform surgeries remotely with the right instruments. Such systems promote remote education and enhanced monitoring, increasing literacy and reducing crime. In short, 5G is a technology that improves living standards.
Disadvantages of 5G
Now that you know about some ways 5G benefits the world, let’s analyze some downsides of the 5G network:
1. 5G has a slow rollout
The potential of 5G is great on paper, but the technology is not yet globally available. Some countries are adopting the technology faster, while others have to wait years if it even reaches them. Additionally, the implementation doesn’t mean immaculate performance—the new mobile network carriers will experience technical difficulties for a period. Moreover, the financial situation may demand that only big cities gain access to 5G. Rural areas may again be on hold for a few extra years.
2. Its network towers are prone to obstructions
Once again, the theoretical capabilities of 5G look outstanding. However, those are measured in perfect conditions, while tall buildings and trees block the 5G network. Therefore, 5G may be unfeasible or experience reduced performance in areas with tall objects. To combat that, carriers must place the towers on top of those objects, ruling out rural areas from coverage. Otherwise, they must build more towers in proximity, which is both a financial and an aesthetic downside.
3. Older devices are incompatible with 5G
A big drawback of 5G is its incompatibility with 2G, 3G, and 4G devices. Therefore, even after 5G connectivity becomes available, users must replace devices as old as a few years to benefit. This excludes the average population from adopting the technology. It also causes immediate obsolescence of 4G devices, leading to more electronic waste.
4. 5G has security risks
Network slicing requires software and network components that understand data and delegate resources. This leaves the door open for spying on data, which is something the United States accused Huawei of doing for the Chinese government in early 2020 before banning them. Additionally, security researchers identified flaws that leave 5G networks open for DDoS (distributed denial of service) and MITM (man-in-the-middle attacks). As a new technology, it will be open to new exploits. Plus, malicious individuals can utilize the increased bandwidth awarded to IoT (Internet of Things) devices, making botnet attacks more powerful.
5. 5G could have negative health effects
The health hazards of 5G have been a big topic and were repeatedly debunked. After all, the potentially dangerous effects decrease rapidly only several meters from the tower. However, we don’t know the long-term effects of 5G, especially as the number of cell towers in proximity grows. The way 5G may affect health shouldn’t obstruct the implementation of the technology without proof. However, it should be monitored and kept at safe levels for populated areas.