5G Technology: Explained
THE MATRIX — The hype for 5G wireless technology is real, what with it being able to support virtual reality simulations and download feature-length videos in seconds — but what is 5G exactly and what are we willing to risk for better internet connection?
5G is the generation of wireless technology that follows 4G LTE mobile connections.
According to Raconteur, it operates on higher radio frequencies called millimeter waves which allows it to deliver data more quickly.
However, its signal doesn't travel well through physical objects such as buildings and houses and its waves can be absorbed by rain and humidity.
Millimeter waves also have limited range.
According to Lifewire, 5G signals cover less than one square mile from the cell tower, only allowing devices in close proximity to link to the network.
This will require the construction of several 5G cell towers in order for devices to stay connected.
According to The Verge, Verizon launched its 5G network in early May in Chicago and Minneapolis.
The technology is hard to come by but in areas near 5G towers, download speeds can reach between 400 and 600 Mbps.
Users are thrilled, health experts on the other hand are concerned.
In January, a group of 250 researchers and scientists from around the world signed a petition addressing the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the UN Environment Program asking them to further investigate the impact of 5G technology on humans.
They fear radiofrequency radiation from devices including cell towers, smartphones, WiFi signals, TV antennas might have adverse effects on human health.
They listed increased cancer risk, genetic damage, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits and neurological disorders as possible side effects to being exposed to radiation.
They recommend creating stronger regulations and guidelines for 5G networks, protecting children and pregnant women and creating radiation-free areas.
5G could also reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts.
According to a new study published in the journal Nature, 5G networks transmit at nearly the same frequency as weather satellites and could produce a signal similar to water vapor.
This could throw off predictions and reduce accuracy by 30 percent, according to NOAA Acting Chief, Neil Jacobs.