“It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… 5G”

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5GWe’re talking about it

As already showcased last week by Adeleh Mojtahed, 5G remains in the news spotlight.

In Switzerland, people are becoming more and more concerned about the general impact on living creatures particularly pets and humans. Several groups are pressing telecom companies and the government for a moratorium on 5G rollout.

On the other hand, companies are promising new services and extraordinary speeds with 5G technology. They also intimate that 5G will provide greater network coverage.

In order to understand the reason for choosing this technology, we have to take a step back and understand what it offers, and at what price.


5G? Ok. What about the first four?

A bit of history first? Until 4G (fourth generation), network technology was non IP (you could not use services through internet protocols).

Even if the 2.5G (let’s say an update of the 2G) and the 3G were designed to support data transmission and, specifically in the case of the latter, to respond to the need for higher data flow, these technologies still lacked internet protocols.

With the 4G introducing IP-based packets, devices in such networks could communicate in the same way as a computer over the Internet. The doors of mobile services, opened with the deployment of the 3G, were then broadened by 4G.

With the arrival of 5G, a new world of services can be offered by the providers. The notion of activity (from low to very active) has arisen, developing the idea that actors and services in 5G can be categorized (see graphic below).



“5G offers network operators the potential to offer new services to new categories of users.”
(from 5G, ETSI, https://www.etsi.org/technologies/5g)

The price

As stated before, this new technology has a cost. To be more precise, it has a price.

Firstly, there are fears that 5G could affect people’s health.

In terms of hardware architecture, there will be a need to change the end-user device (for those who surf at the edge of the technology), but also because it requires the setup of new powerful antennas. This is what worries some people.

In terms of a global culture, people want to be more connected, to be able to share more, to have greater online access, and to measure everything.

You couldn’t resist it in the end? A mistake, I fancy. It gets under your skin, [the internet of things]. Speaking metaphorically, of course. And you see, the more you struggle for every [connected] thing, the more [connected] you stay… which is where I come in, as a matter of fact.

Modified extract from Death speaking about life.
Hogfather, Terry Pratchett, 1996

Is it then worth asking a final question: is this price too high?



Photo credit: unsplash by jslate01

Thierry Sorg Thierry Sorg

Someone told me it may be a challenge for me to write technical articles for non-IT people... Guess what! I'm writing!

I'm a computer scientist with a previous background in ERP development and a taste for teaching.
I'm a scientist in the heart, so if it can be seperated in small pieces and then studied during hours with a magnifying glass, it will interest me. There's no doubt!

I think there is a good place to write my motto just after the very next colon: rather than programming solutions, I love to solve problems.

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