5 misconceptions about 5G - Tech | 5G, SDN/NFV & Edge Compute


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

5 misconceptions about 5G

5G is the latest buzz word in the telco world. 5G deployments have just started in some countries across the globe. While technologists are still chiseling 5G to give it a finishing look, there are a lot of misconceptions and debates about 5G technology. I thought of clarifying some of them in this blog post. (Also read: Will WiFi get killed by 5G?). 

1. 5G is dangerous 

Many people think that 5G radiations will bring the world to its knees and cause a lot of health hazards to people. 5G expects service providers to deploy several thousands of mini cell phone towers called as "Small Cells", almost one in every street corner. That raises the eyebrows of commoners - whether that would increase our exposure to wireless radiations. In US alone, it is estimated that there will be roughly 800,000 small cells to power-up the country with 5G signals. According to a recent SDxCentral article, there is at least 20 lawsuits in US against the rollout of 5G. (Read: 5G FAQ)

American National Cancer Institute did some studies on wireless radio frequency and reported in Jan 2018 that "A limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumor risks, but most studies have found no association". NCI website says non-ionized radiations, such as the ones used in wireless cell phones, are not as impactful as the ones caused by ionized radiations such as X-Rays.

Recently, media speculated about 297 birds getting killed due to 5G tests in Netherland. However, subsequently the news was reported as false. 

Researches say that using cell phones for a long time isn't advisable, as they tend to generate a lot of heat. No study has clearly established that 5G radiation is going to be harmful or more dangerous than 4G radiations. (Read: 4G vs. 5G).

A detailed analysis of the research data can be found at Is 5G radiation going to kill us?". 

2. 5G is for mobile phones

Most people still think that 5G is for mobile phones, like the previous generation wireless technologies. However, 5G is intended for totally new set of use cases.  In fact, though 5G services are launched in many cities / countries, 5G phones are yet to be commercially launched. 5G technology is for high bandwidth / low latency use cases such as Autonomous Cars, Remote Robotic Surgery, AR/VR and Holograms. 

3. 5G will drain battery fast

When 3G was initially launched, all of us noticed that our phone batteries drained fast. Even today, when you keep the data connection ON with a 4G enabled mobile phone, the smart apps suck up the charge from your mobile batteries. However, 5G comes with a lots of promise. Lowell McAdam, past CEO of Verizon said “In an IoT setting, 5G will have 10-year battery life. And we expect that in a mobile phone environment, you’ll probably charge your phone once a month". Recently, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg appeared in CES and said "Energy Efficiency" is one of the eight currencies for 5G. Verizon expects 5G technology to be consuming only 10% of the current energy consumption. 

4. Internet of Things (IOT) use cases rely heavily on 5G

When people talk about 5G, they also talk about Internet of Things (IOT) use cases such as Autonomous Cars and Smart Cities. While 5G will accelerate the adoption of IOT technologies such as Autonomous Cars, it is not needed to enable IOT services in Smart Cities. Typically, IOT enabled devices will have sensors that use a low power radio frequency to communicate with other IOT devices.  These devices do not directly connect to Internet - rather, they communicate with a local IOT gateway, which provides the connectivity to the Internet. Since IOT gateway devices are stationary in nature (they may be kept in street corners or in poles), they can be connected with traditional wired network connections. Hence, IOT use cases do not rely heavily on 5G technology. 

5. WiFi will get killed by 5G

One of the common debates in the industry is, will 5G kill WiFi? WiFi is a growing industry. According to a study commissioned by WiFi Alliance®, the economic value provided by Wi-Fi is nearly $2 trillion in 2018, and is expected to grow to almost $3.5 trillion by 2023. Considering the penetration of WiFi technology, the cost of deployment of 5G infrastructure and the speed supported by WiFi, WiFi is going to stay with us at least for the next 10 years. 5G may selectively replace WiFi within Enteprises. However, it may complement WiFi in other areas like Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). 


  1. This is clearly an article endorsed by the fcc. They say it's within safe radiation standards. Well unsafe radiation levels begin at 0.4 units, China has a saftey maximum all they way up to 10. The U.S.? 500-1000. While it may be within the standards set by Ajit Pai a former Verizon executive, who also tried to get rid of net neutrality, it's far beyond the questions of wether it's safe, now it's how long till it irradiates our brains beyond recognition.

  2. Since the coming of 5G network it has been complains about the network. Please let just work with the 4G network. It has contributed to the pandemic situation we are right not. Just do away with the 5G for now please.