Five 5G myths and their realities
5G Myths Debunked
5G is causing a stir. On one hand, there is excitement over 5G’s capabilities, including capacity for more connected devices, lower latency, decreased energy demand, lower costs, and speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G. Additionally, 5G enables network slicing, which gives providers the ability to create multiple virtual networks that ensure critical operations always have the communications they need.
On the other hand, there is also quite a bit of concern about these next-gen communications networks. When a new technology is introduced, it’s not unusual for people to need some time to understand and develop a sense of comfort about it. The chatter about 5G, however, is sparking some myths and conspiracy theories that are wildly unusual, even by science fiction’s standards.
To help set the record straight, here are the facts you need to debunk these five 5G myths.
5G Causes COVID-19
You can trace this conspiracy theory back to social media with the idea that 5G was behind the global pandemic. Like many false claims and opinions shared on social media, the theory spread quickly.
Although people are debating the safety of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) associated with 5G, EMR doesn’t cause coronavirus. A virus does. This 5G myth may have had more to do with the panic over COVID-19 and less to do with 5G.
5G Isn’t Safe
Speaking of EMR, people have speculated that exposure to this type of radiation may be responsible for a wide range of conditions and illnesses from cancer and infertility to autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
To debunk this 5G myth, go straight to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). An FCC statement points out that many federal agencies monitor and investigate the impact of exposure to radio frequency EMR. Although there aren’t published national standards for safe levels, they rely on research from organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). The FCC assures consumers that no devices operating on the 5G network pose an undue risk.
Looking at this issue from another perspective, 5G may actually make the world a safer place. It provides first responders, healthcare providers, and government officials with the secure, reliable networks they need to support systems that ensure health and public safety. 5G also opens the door to innovation to provide new services in these vital areas.
5G is Part of a Plot to Spy on People
Debunking this myth only takes an understanding of what 5G is. 5G itself is not a surveillance system. It is a communications network. It is not likely that it would be easier to spy on someone on a 5G network than on 4G.
Instead of surveilling users, 5G’s goal is to enable more devices to connect. It’s the necessary next step in the evolution of mobile/cellular networks in response to an increasingly connected world. It supports the entire spectrum of users and use cases, from consumer Fitbits, smartphones and voice assistants to industrial robots, autonomous vehicles and smart cities. 5G also makes services leveraging advanced technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), more feasible. For connected ecosystems already in place, 5G will help them work better; for those just in the idea stage, 5G can help make them a reality.
Expanding how many devices can connect to a network takes transforming communication network architectures. 5G relies on multi-access edge computing (MEC) to move data processing from centralized data centers (i.e., clouds) to the network edge, close to applications and end users.
For example, consider the impact of rapidly increasing remote work during the pandemic. It put a massive and unexpected strain on the network. Thanks to MEC, 5G actually enables less communication to and from the cloud and can manage the greater demand for computing power, worries about spying, notwithstanding.
5G Will Interfere with Weather Predictions
Another 5G myth is that these new networks will somehow make predicting the weather more difficult or less reliable. Meteorologists have expressed concern that 5G will interfere with satellite communications since 5G frequencies are close to those that detect water vapor levels, often used in weather forecasting.
The FCC, however, disputes this claim, explaining that 5G technology minimizes stray signals, and the 24-GHz band in question will probably be limited to dense, urban areas.
5G is Going to Make Our Phones Obsolete
In past communications network transitions, you may have had to upgrade your cellphone, for example, when 4G replaced 3G. The transition from 4G to 5G, however, is different. Some 5G networks are building on top of existing networks. Service relies on a “handshake” between the phone and a 4G network before establishing a 5G connection. This strategy has enabled carriers to roll out 5G faster, and it also means you’ll be able to keep your phone – and it may even work better. It will take a few years before standalone networks, which allow devices to connect directly to 5G, are widespread. And by then, everyone will have a chance to upgrade their phones.
Who’s Most 5G Aware?
Myths and conspiracy theories are often due to a lack of awareness about technology. Somewhat surprisingly, millennials show a greater lack of awareness about 5G compared to Gen X and Gen Z. In an iGR survey of 1,000 consumers, the highest awareness was among those age 40-44, followed by people 30-34 and 35-39. These findings are concerning since the millennial generation is now the largest in the U.S. and represents most of the people who will use 5G services and drive its adoption.
Among millennials, iGR found that the 5G services and applications that interest them most by percentage of respondents include:
- Giving public safety real-time access to information, 60.3 percent
- Vehicle recognition to help find stolen vehicles, 59.8 percent
- Intelligent parking that helps locate available spaces, 59.1 percent
- Real-time traffic updates with “look-ahead” features, 56.2 percent
- Connecting ER doctors with ambulances for triage, 55.2 percent
- Automatic notifications to police or towing companies after an accident, 54.4 percent
- Remote medical diagnosis and access to physicians, 53.4 percent
- Child tracker, 53.2 percent
- Pet tracker, 53.0 percent
However, millennials are also concerned with how using those services and applications will keep their data confidential. For example, although 53.2 percent are interested in child tracker applications, 54.9 percent are concerned that it would negatively impact the family’s privacy.
Whether your concerns are related to how some of the services 5G enables would use consumer data – or you’ve just heard an unsettling theory about 5G, it’s important to dig deeper to get the facts and help educate people in your circles. Know what 5G is, what it really does, and how a business or organization can leverage it for their benefit.
How are you feeling about 5G?
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