In recent weeks, much has been said about 5G technology. It is a new generation of a cellular network — way how data is sent between devices. 5G is a successor to 2G (allowed to transfer text messages), 3G (provided access to internet) and 4G (made the internet much faster), and most new devices are equipped with 5G technology.
With all of the noise about potential dangers of the technology, it is often not clear why we need 5G and what benefits it will bring.
How will it influence our daily life?
First, it will bring much more speed. It is believed that 5G can be even 100 times faster than 4G, the existing standard. The main difference between 4G and 5G is latency. Latency is the period of time between sending information from one device and receiving it in another. Lower latency means that it will be possible to reduce the time a movie loads on your computer, a computer game is downloaded or your files are uploaded to a cloud storage server.
Second, the world is constantly changing and the number of devices connected — growing. There is a real risk that soon, in 2020 or 2021, 4G will no longer be able to support all devices connected. The growth of Internet of Things (a network of devices connected between themselves and with people) requires much more bandwidth than before, and 5G offers better usability.
For example, 5G will be extremely valuable in smart houses, where the temperature, humidity and light is controlled by a computer, a smart fridge knows how much food is available and how soon it will go bad, an integrated sound and light system switches on when somebody returns home and even electric scales are connected to a computer, a smart watch and a TV. Each of the devices require connection to internet, thus slowing it down — until now.
Third, 5G opens up many possibilities in future. It is expected that the technology will be used in smart cars and in city management. There are countless ways to improve our daily life, such as using traffic lights connected to computer to calculate the most effective way to reduce traffic, or equipping trash bins with sensors to notify trash collectors when they are full.
5G technology is used also in instant file sharing. It brings benefits to companies with remote workers who can participate in meetings or create shared documents without interruptions or lagging. It means that cloud storage solutions will grow in their popularity, as files will be uploaded and downloaded instantly — why use valuable storage space on your computer when you are able to quickly and securely access everything online?
Is it safe?
From a high-school physics point of view, 5G is no less dangerous than currently used technologies. It emits non-ionizing radiation, which is not harmful to humans and animals. Wi-Fi routers, radio signals and most data transmitters we know today work with the same basic principle. However, it is also clear that 5G and electronic data transfer as such is a relatively new field of study, so there are not many long-term studies available. For more information, here is a comprehensive article showing both sides of the discussion: https://www.cnet.com/news/5g-phones-and-your-health-what-you-need-to-know/