What is 5G? (& How It ACTUALLY Works)

by birtanpublished on September 3, 2020

Chances are you've heard the term 5g already it's being talked about a lot lately and honestly there's good reason 5g is going to have a pretty big impact on our daily lives and so of course all of the carriers are showing what they're doing with it and pushing it more and

More the truth is though that 5g is complicated and there is a lot to talk about when trying to explain it so in this episode of decoder where I try to break down a new piece of tech each week let's talk about what 5g actually is all

Of it what the benefits that can bring and the future of it now since Qualcomm is one of the leaders in all things 5g and I had access to a plethora of there 5g tech while in Maui for their tech summit event I figured who better than

To partner with on this video and do a deep dive into 5g so firstly what is 5g well to put into overly simple terms 5g is short for the fifth generation of wireless technology and it follows the previous four that preceded it including

Of course 4G what your phone is most likely running on right now with each generation we received a new major benefits along with the new technology standards that each introduced and 5g will be no different now when most

People talk about 5g they usually begin with talking about radio frequencies one of the major benefits of 5gs that the technology will be deployed on a much larger swath of radio frequencies than our current 4G networks this isn't the

Only thing that makes 5g what it is but we'll get to more of that in a sec now there are various radio spectrums that are being used for 5g and it's broken up into three tiers high band which is the frequencies above 24 gigahertz

Essentially sometimes refer to as millimeter waves since the distance between each wavelength is around a millimeter in distance these frequencies are much higher than the current ones we use for 4G and this comes with some pros

And some cons firstly because of the vast amount of frequencies available we can get much higher data speeds this is the tech being used whenever you see those crazy 2 gigabit per second speeds on social media for example the downside

Of this though is that because of how high the frequencies are they are prone to obstructions millimeter wave bands aren't able to penetrate walls very well and even things like your hand can block them

Because of this there were a lot of people saying that it would be impossible to use these frequencies in a normal use case qualcomm though managed to defy the naysayers and got millimeter-wave to work by using a bunch

Of clever tech including small antennas in multiple places around the device that so no matter where your hand is there's always at least one of these antennas exposed they also came up with ways of using beamforming to bounce the

Signals around corners and off of objects etc in fact Qualcomm is the only company that has been able to crack the code of a millimeter wave and get it to actually work in everyday settings so far a period kind of nuts the next year

For frequencies is mid bands sometimes referred to as sub 6 they are lower in frequency so they can't quite hit as fast of data speeds but are still a decent amount faster than 4G while still being able to penetrate walls better and

Just have further reach and then we have what the industry calls low bands such as those under 1 gigahertz or so that operators use today for 4G Qualcomm recently demonstrated a clever tech called dynamic spectrum sharing that

Again only they so far seem to have deployed in devices that lets carriers use the same frequencies for both their current 4G users and 5g users at the same time dynamically switching to whatever the users might need making it

Easier for carriers to roll out 5g in low brand frequencies faster now regardless of which frequencies each carrier is currently using for 5g t-mobile and AT&T with low band and millimeter-wave Verizon with

Millimeter-wave at the moment Sprint with mid band etc they will all eventually launch solutions within each of the three tiers ideally and combine them together a good example of how this would work is having a millimeter wave

Dotted all over a high-density area like a city centre and when you are near those you'll get the highest speeds available then you'll have mid ban in those same areas and reaching out a lot further supplementing that and still

Giving much higher speeds than we currently see and then we'll have the low band spectrum to reach out to even more rural areas etc and it's not as simple as whatever frequency area you're in you're gonna get those speeds only

They're gonna work together a lot more seamlessly than that let me give you a quick example now generally speaking your coverage is not only determined by the tower but also your phone the tower itself projecting on a mid band high

Speed signal for example will reach your phone thanks to the fact that the tower has enough power to push that signal over a large distance but your phone might not be able to get its own mid band upload signal back to the tower

Simply because it doesn't have the power to send it that far now in this scenario the low band frequency can come into play and be used by the phone to send the upload signal back to the tower thanks to that frequency being able to

Travel much further with less power and then the tower can use the faster mid band frequency to send all of the downstream data back to the phone the arguably more important speed wise transmission anyway and voila you might

Technically be in a low band coverage area but you're benefiting from the much higher download speeds of mid band etc this also goes to show why it's so important as to what chipset is in the phone since it needs to be able to

Handle all of this trade-off that will constantly be happening and again since Qualcomm is the only company out there at the moment that can even use the millimeter wave high band sub six mid band and low band all on the same

Chipset that's probably the one you'll have in your device in order to take advantage of all of the frequencies 5g will ultimately employ okay enough talk about frequencies they do play a big factor

They are gonna provide all of the bandwidth and a lot of the speed that we need but they're not the entire story take the 600 megahertz low band that t-mobile is using or the 850 megahertz that AT&T is using for example as

Mentioned these are the same bands that both use for LTE so if frequencies were all there was to it then how can this new network be 5g right well let me show you something this is a 4G base station it has four

Sectors each with maybe a few antennas and it uses a process called my mode which some of you who watched my earlier decoder episode on Wi-Fi 6 might remember as it's a feature that Wi-Fi 6 sort of borrowed from the cellular world

Well my mo stands for multiple input multiple output and basically it has more antennas so it can send multiple streams of data to and from your 4G phone that also has up to four antennas in it for the same reason this though is

A 5g base station and it has anywhere from 64 to 256 antennas because of that they call this feature massive MIMO seems appropriate is one of the key features that sets apart 5g from 4G regardless of the

Frequency that the 5g signal is running on it can use this massive amount of antennas to direct signal in much more precise beams to either increase the signals distance or coverage or provide much better performance at the same

Distance over a 4G tower the amount of antennas also allows the same spectrum or frequencies to be used multiple times in the same area so some of the antennas can service Michael over here in this area MJ over in this one David here in

The middle and Jaime on the right all on the same band without the signals from each causing interference with each other this translates to a lot more users getting better signal at each cell site and the cell site being able to

Handle a lot more users in general now another key feature of 5g over 4G that helps 5g towers serve more users with much faster data is the fact that unlike 4G which has subcarriers of the frequency it uses cut into 15 kilohertz

Sections 5g is inherently more flexible with these sub carriers making it a lot more useful and lastly four key differences there is an encoding difference between 5g and 4G signals basically this means that the format the

Data is being sent and received in by the tower and your 5g device is just more optimized so it delivers more data per transmission which translates to faster speeds think of it like an h.265 encoded video versus an h.264 one for an

Overly simplified example at least now something else we need to talk about really quickly that is going to have a huge impact on what 5g can do in the future is the difference between NSA or non stand-alone and si or standalone 5g

Right now in the US and most places the 5g networks here will start out as NSA Networks what this means is that even though the towers and end-user devices like your phone for example have been upgraded to use these 5g features the

Core network the part of the network comprising the infrastructure carrying your data from the tower to the Internet at large is still based on 4G standards this means that we can't quite get all of the potential that 5g has to offer

But of course it is much faster to deploy eventually though the networks will start to become standalone and that means that from the end-user all the way to the internet will be upgraded with new 5g

And it's then that will see the next major benefit of 5ge that we need to talk about real quick the lower latency now we aren't seeing it just yet but besides the speed the much lower latency or the time that it takes for the data

To go from your device out to the internet and back will be a huge benefit of 5g again once carriers move to more SI systems that I just mentioned Qualcomm has mentioned latency of down to one millisecond and is this combined

With that much faster speed that will bring about a lot more benefits of 5g like future changing benefits hear me out the speed combined with a low latency means that eventually you can access

Data from the cloud faster than you could if it was on your own device think unlimited storage that worked and acts like on device storage the offloading of processing power from the device to Cloud Servers think cloud gaming on any

Device since the hardware in that device doesn't matter as it could all be run off of much more powerful cloud servers etc now IOT and self-driving will take a massive leap forward to connected devices and self-driving cars will be

Able to communicate with one another and even Cloud Servers almost instantly which especially in the case of the cars I'm sure you can see why that's needed for them to become safer and more useful really eventually everything around us

Will just become smarter and high-speed data will flow a lot like electricity does now being commoditized and just expected everywhere so how far off from this crazy future that I'm painting are we actually well according to Qualcomm

We're closer than I even thought writing over 40 plus carriers around the world have begun deploying their 5g NSA networks rolling out a lot faster than their 4G versions did but Qualcomm told me that they already know of a carriers

That are launching those full standalone 5g networks coming as early as 2021 if not in 2020 even and I don't know about you guys but I'm so ready for that there guys hope you enjoy that let me know in the comments below what you thought of

This video also let me know another topic that you guys might like to see me decode on a later episode if you like this video please thumbs up better share its greatly appreciate it also check out the rest of channel feel like what you

See there please subscribe and ding the bell next to work subscribe so you can notify when I do new videos as always though regardless thanks for watching and I'll see you next week you

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