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Tech 101: Should I Worry About a 5G Tower in My Area?

As the digital age progresses, telecommunications companies are searching for ways to make technology better and faster for everyone. These businesses are now focusing on wireless data technology, which has evolved quickly over the past several years.

There have been plans to succeed 4G LTE with a more sophisticated network. This next-generation wireless technology is 5G. A 5G tower may already be in your area, given that this network started rolling out in the United States back in 2018.

Not many people, however, understand the 5G revolution. Some think that the 5G antennas transmit harmful viruses, whereas others think that they’re another way to spy on people. Before we get to these theories, let’s take a good look at what 5G is, what it looks like and how it can help people. 

What is 5G?

5G is a new global wireless standard designed to connect virtually everything together, including devices, objects and machines. This wireless technology can bump up internet speeds and handle more connected devices than a 4G LTE network.

An infrastructure used to hold the network equipment for faster internet access is a 5G tower. This telecommunications site could strengthen wireless signals by ten times the current speed of a 4G LTE network. 

Given that high-frequency waves have a difficult time traveling through objects and over distances, companies will build the 5G network using small cell site technology. These towers will have 5G antennas as close as 500 feet apart.

What Does a 5G Tower Look Like?

Unlike 4G networks that resemble a large and tall structure, a 5G cell tower is just a tiny box placed closer together. It consists of small equipment strategically positioned on utility poles, lampposts and streetlights.

Some telecommunications companies make an effort to conceal the small equipment. They can, for instance, strategically place these boxes around university campuses and along the sides of office buildings. They could also camouflage the equipment by installing it on fake palm trees. These “plants” will serve as 5G tree towers. 

What are the Advantages of 5G Towers?

Many cities in the United States and around the world are racing to upgrade to the next-generation wireless technology by building a lot of 5G towers. 

When people and businesses wirelessly connect their devices to these towers, they can enjoy the following benefits: 

Improved Connection Speeds

Connection speed is one of the most touted benefits of 5G. The maximum real-world download speed of 4G is about 100 Megabits Per Second (Mbps). Connecting to a 5G tower can take the connection speed of your device to another level. A 5G network has the potential to reach an amazing 10 Gigabits Per Second (Gbps). 

This huge jump is highly beneficial not just to consumers, but also to businesses across all sectors. What’s more, enterprises transferring large amounts of data won’t have to worry about causing network issues given the promising speeds of 5G. 

Reduced Latency

Latency refers to the time passes between a user action, such as accessing a website, and the resulting response. A high latency translates to noticeable lags — an annoyance that’s present in many network connections. If you were watching a live-streamed football match, for instance, what you see on your monitor or TV screen is always a few seconds behind what’s happening in real-time on the field. 

5G aims to cut down latency time to virtually zero. Lower latency provided by 5G can dramatically boost the functionality of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It will also make communication with cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), easier and faster. 

Higher Device Capacity

All networks can only handle a predetermined number of data transmission and devices simultaneously. Given that more offices are using more devices to transmit data, the 4G network may be unable to keep up with the increasing loads. 

This is where 5G network enters the scene. A report from CIO magazine revealed that 5G would be able to support up to a million connected devices per 0.38 square miles. This is way better than 4G, which could only support just 2,000 devices. This also means that enterprise networks can turn to 5G to host a large number of internet-capable devices in their network infrastructure. 

How Safe is 5G? 

There’s a lot of buzz around the deployment of 5G towers and how they’re detrimental to human health and public safety. You’ll find people coming up with baseless and troubling claims about 5G radiation and 5G networks. This fear-mongering behavior has unfortunately resulted in people destroying approximately 80 cellular phone towers in the United Kingdom.  

Should you freak out when you see a 5G tower in your area? 

The answer is no. If you need further proof to counter the claims you find online, check out these three wild myths that are patently false: 

Myth: China is using 5G technology to spy on people’s lives.

This out-of-this-world theory goes like this: Companies with ties to the communist Chinese government will put up 5G towers containing equipment that uses technological “backdoors” to spy on people.

As of this writing, there’s no hard evidence stating that people can use 5G for espionage. What is clear, however, is that countries are looking at China as a threat to national security.

The United States, along with a few European countries, have blocked Huawei from building 5G infrastructures. The jury, however, is still out on Huawei being a national security threat. 

Whatever the case may be, the US has taken proactive steps in treating Huawei as a threat.

Myth: 5G Causes Cancer

The American Cancer Society reveals that currently there’s no scientific evidence suggesting the radiofrequency waves generated from a 5G tower are harmful to humans. Also, the waves that allow wireless communications are non-ionizing radiation, a type of radiation that does not damage the DNA inside cells directly.

Myth: A 5G Tower Can Spread COVID-19

Although this argument sounds completely preposterous, some individuals actually think that 5G networks can spread the dreaded coronavirus disease. This claim is obviously false. Radio waves can only spread computer viruses, not human ones.

This myth, however, does prove one thing: misinformation spreads easily on the web.

The next time you read about a theory about 5G networks on the internet, don’t believe it right away. Do your homework by verifying the claims presented in what you’re reading. What’s more, don’t worry if you see a 5G tower in your area. It’s there to improve wireless connectivity — not hurt or kill people.