5G De-mystified

5G De-mystified

The below blog-post was a speech as part of my Toastmasters Pathway Level 1 – Research and Presenting. The purpose of this project is to learn or review basic research methods and present a well-organized, well-researched speech on any topic. This project asks to select a topic that I’m not familiar with or that I wish to learn more about. I need to make sure the topic is narrow enough to be an effective 5 to 7 minutes speech. My topic is to demystify 5G.

Here’s my speech:

5G, 5G De-mystified
Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

A few weeks back, I was in the market for a new phone. And if you have been in the market for a new phone, you will realize it is flooded with phones offering so many different features and capabilities. However, one feature that kept popping up in my research was “5G-capable”. What was this “5G” and why is it so important? The search for answers to these questions led me to learning a lot about 5G and I am here today to de-mystify 5G for you.

Before we begin, we need to first know what does the “G” in 5G stand for and what is the significance of the number “5?” The “G” stands for the Generation of cellular technology. The 1st generation of cell-phones came into the market in the early 1990s and provided the consumer with basic telephone features – making and receiving calls wirelessly. With the 2nd generation, consumers could send and receive text-messages and the 3rd generation mobile-phone  provided connectivity to the Internet. In 2009, 4G technology was introduced which claimed to provide faster download speeds. According to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), 5G specifications promise faster speeds and lower latency – which means the amount of time it takes between sending a request and receiving the response is decreased. It also promises higher bandwidth – which means more users. 

The next question that comes to our mind is how  5G is able to achieve such high speeds. In order to understand that, we need to understand the characteristics of a radio-wave. Any wave is characterized by

  1. Frequency – the number of times a wave traverses a fixed point in one second,
  2. Wavelength – the distance traversed by a wave in one cycle, and
  3. Energy.

Frequency and wavelength are inversely proportional to each other: the higher the frequency of a wave, the shorter the distance it travels. 5G waves fall under 2 bandwidths – less than 6 GHz and greater than 24 GHz. At such high frequencies, the wavelengths are short; 5G waves can travel only short distances and hence require direct line-of-sight for successful transmission. These high frequencies are what enable high download speeds. 

There are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding 5G and how the 5G waves cause harm to humans.  I want to firmly iterate that this claim is totally false. All radio-waves can be categorized either as ionizing or non-ionizing. Radio-waves which fall under extremely high frequency band (order of 10 to the power of 17 and above), like gamma rays and x-rays, are the ones which cause ionization and hence potentially there is a danger in exposure. 5G waves are nowhere near that frequency and are safe. Thus, if you are in the market for a new phone, go and get that 5G-capable phone like I just did 😉 

-Deepa Seshadri, member of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters

We have many more interesting speeches and workshops. Come to our next meeting on April 14th, 7-8:15pm PDT. Theme: Effective Women Leaders. Register here.