5G Disruptions: A Two-Minute Tech Read

Ian Bryant | Jun 10, 2019

We’re all aware that 5G has begun rolling out, but what you might not know is how disruptive this process is becoming. By now you’ve certainly heard that “5G is going to change the world,” connecting billions of devices into a fast, low latency network allowing for massive connectivity of devices.

This network, though, requires hundreds of thousands of small cell antennas in densely populated areas. 5G runs on a millimeter wavelength — meaning the coverage area of a single access point is small. In order to create this large, robust network, antennas must be placed everywhere possible. Cities like London — which is trying to connect 15 million homes  by 2025 — are looking to add antennas to  lamp posts and other bits of infrastructure,  but there is now legal pushback from the owners of those items. In Denver, Colorado, the service providers are installing their own “flag poles” for the transmitters, but haven’t taken into consideration the number of locations that will be needed. Imagine a small cell transmitter for each provider mounted every 250 feet inside a city!

It’s not just finding mounting locations for the antennas that are causing issues with 5G implementation. One other issue, for example: The network may cause a 30% accuracy drop in weather forecasting because water vapor emits a faint signal in the atmosphere at a frequency (23.8 GHz) which is right up against the 24 GHz frequency that 5G operates on.

What does this mean for us? Simply put, 5G isn’t as far along as we were all told it would be by the providers and media. Implementation is going to require getting over a great many legal, technical, and scientific hurdles. Additionally, almost no phones on the market now support 5G, regardless of what your phone’s manufacturer/provider tells you. Yes, 5G will change the world, and yes, it is a big deal — we are just a little early in the game.

On implementation in London, UK

On implementation in Denver, CO

On effects on weather forecasting

NOTE: This Emerging Trends piece is brought to you by CEDIA’s Technology Advisory Council and Technology Application & Innovation department.