What Is the Frequency Spectrum of 5G and What’s the Difference to 4G?

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5G is already here, getting deployed by telecommunications providers who seek to promote the new technology to the consumer. One of the characteristics of this next-gen cellular wireless internet protocol is the use of very different wavelengths than what we were used to seeing in previous generations. Answering the question of what frequency spectrum 5G is going to use isn’t straight-forward, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated either.

We should point out that 5G is going to use two individual frequency ranges. One ranging between 450 MHz and 6 GHz (called the “sub-6GHz”), and one from 24.25 GHz to 52,6 GHz (called “mmWave”). Previous generation LTE networks use the radio spectrum between 700 MHz and 2.7 GHz, so there is going to be some infrastructural overlap between the two.

Each frequency range comes with its own sets of pros and cons, like cost, peak speeds, range of coverage, spectrum locks due to existing licenses, and more. So, depending on the country, carrier, geological morphology, the auctions that will be offered for specific frequency bands, and the particular area of interest, 5G connectivity might have notable differences.

In general, we can say that the higher frequencies are those that make the “big” difference in speeds compared to 4G, and what most carriers plan to deploy on dense urban areas. A shopping mall, for example, will have mmWave coverage, while rural areas would get sub-6GHz antennas to cover a larger space.

This is why chip makers like Qualcomm are creating mobile modems like the X52 found in the Snapdragon 765G, which should enable a smartphone to connect to any 5G band and seamlessly switch to another when the internet connectivity jumps to a new frequency range. This is very important for those who travel and want to be sure that they’ll get to enjoy superior 5G speeds all the time.

If you’re interested in 5G, ask your carrier about the technical specifics of their roll-out and then pick a device that will be able to take advantage of that spectrum. Ideally, select one that works with all bands.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay