As the fifth generation of mobile technology, 5G utilizes new frequency bands to reach proposed speeds of up to 70 times faster than the theoretical peak of 4G. These frequencies enable never-seen-before wireless data transfer and offer the potential to bring new capabilities like autonomous vehicles, edge computing, augmented reality and virtual reality, remote surgery, and more. This article identifies the three primary electromagnetic frequency bands that 5G cellular technology utilizes and explores the new uses and capabilities each can enable.
Low-band frequencies excel in rural or sparsely populated areas, offering broad network coverage with a range of tens of kilometers and able to penetrate walls and buildings. Mid-band frequencies are the most common and work well in urban or suburban areas, allowing for high internet speeds with plenty of coverage area. High-band frequencies, also called mmWave, are the most revolutionary of all the frequencies for 5G.
Due to their high frequencies, they are susceptible to being blocked by trees, cars, people, and buildings, which can limit their range to a few hundred meters from the base station. To overcome this, the telecom industry has developed new technologies like beamforming to direct signals in highly-focused directions to reduce the amount of lost data.