Tag Archives: microwave

5G Communication Technology

The next advance in communications, at least the next faster thing in communications is the new cell phone technology called 5G, which stands for fifth generation. Currently, depending on your location either 3G or 4G(LTE) provides the fastest data transmission via a cell phone style connection assuming you get any cell phone signal.

In reality, all electronic communications move at the same rate – the speed of light which is pretty darn quick. If you could bend the light from a flashlight to follow the curvature of the earth, you would illuminate the back of your head within a tenth of a second of turning it on. This is true for a beam of light or any other electromagnetic wave such as any of the generations of cell phone technology.

So how does 5G technology “go faster” than previous technologies? Data transmission is measured in bits of date moved per unit time, otherwise bits per second. Think of the different generations as the difference in the size of the pipe delivering the data. Another simple analogy is the number of lanes on a highway. Obviously, a four-lane highway will move twice as much traffic as a two-lane highway even when the traffic is moving at the same speed.

Back to data, the current fourth-generation has an upper limit of 300 bits per second (bps,) although practically speaking about 50 bps is the current average. The projected real speed of the 5G network is 3,000 bps, a sixty-fold increase. What would have taken one minute on a mobile LTE network will take only one second with 5G technology. You will be able to use up your data plan in the blink of an eye!

The greater data transmission rates are achieved by 5G by using a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Without going too deep into the weeds, the higher the frequency, the bigger the pipe and the faster the data transmission. Some, however, are fearful of the use of this higher frequency radiation.

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) constitutes a spectrum, a continuum from the most energetic gamma rays, then X-rays, then ultra-violet, then visible, then microwaves and radio waves. When these rays interact with matter, you and me, they interact in different ways. The most energetic, gamma rays, X-rays, and Ultraviolet light can break chemical bonds and damage molecules such as DNA. This can lead to cancer.

EMR at frequencies below visible light are not energetic enough to break chemical bonds and therefore are not responsible for cancer. Microwaves and radio waves, where cell phone transmission happens, interact with matter by “rattling” atoms and molecules. This induced motion is perceived as heat. We live an ocean of EMR – we are literally bathed in EMR from television, radio, and current cell phone signals.

The 5G network roll out over the coming years will facilitate safer self-driving vehicles, and richer data steaming such as gaming, TV, even holographic image data. There may be some aspects of the future to fear, but a 5G network is not one of them.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University. His website is Bob of the Ozarks, www.ozarker.org