Are you ready for ultra-high-speed connection? Because 5G is coming! Not only does this new network upgrade promise a much faster connection, it will also allow for new applications that could soon change our lives.
With the latest evolution of the cellular network, we will be able to consume the Internet much faster and more easily than today, with speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G. 5G uses millimetre-wave (3.6 GHz and 26 GHz in the EU) which have shorter range but a much higher bandwidth. These frequencies are much higher than anything we’ve used for cellular. But more importantly, 5G will pave the way for new applications that would be impossible with current technologies.
In addition to the thousands of connected objects per square kilometre, there are new possibilities in remote maintenance operations, in telemedicine and the field of autonomous cars, which require a reactivity per millisecond. A surgeon thousands of kilometres away could then control a robot to perform the operation for him. Complex operations could be performed by rescuers, for example, by sharing real-time diagnoses with other physicians to maximize the chances of success. Autonomous cars, on the other hand, will rely on 5G to receive and transmit information in a millisecond. An extreme reactivity that might be necessary if we want to do without driving someday.
But everyone isn’t thrilled by the upcoming 5G networks. Given that the waves have a shorter range cellular towers will have to be closer to each other in order to provide the best performances. Which will inevitably lead to more cell towers and more antennas, therefore more exposure – this is why problems might arise.
For example, a study published in 2018 in Scientific Reports alerts that millimetre-waves can be dangerous, especially for insects. While they point out that 4G frequencies (which are under 6 GHz) do not affect insects, scientists explain that they can absorb these waves through their antennas. According to scientists, frequencies from 10 GHz and more can cause a serious increase of insects’ body temperatures, meaning a lot of physiological changes, even death.
Another example is weather forecasting. Meteorologist are worried these new frequencies might trouble their analyses by disturbing satellite instruments. In order to predict the weather, satellite instruments study variables such as water vapour, cloud cover and ice content. Water vapour, for example, emits a frequency of 23.8 gigahertz (GHz), which is in the frequency range use for 5G.
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