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The opportunities of 5G and where it is heading

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5G technology has positioned itself as one of the key factors for innovation in the field of communications. Although its implementation is just around the corner, the majority of the population still does not know exactly what it consists of and what opportunities it will provide on both a social and business level once its use becomes widespread.

At MWCapital we’re committed to promoting this new technology to society and the business community. On 11 November we will host the “Connected via 5G” conference on the impact that 5G technology will have on the future of transport: “Spain and Europe facing the challenge of smart mobility”.

The aim of this article is to clear up all doubts related to 5G – we will explain exactly how this new technological development is defined, emphasizing the previous stages of the cellular network and pointing out the innovations that it will bring to the Internet and to daily life. Finally, we will explore the health risks it can pose by referring to the latest scientific studies issued by the WHO.

What are we talking about when we talk about 5G technology?

5G technology takes its name from the next phase in cellular network technology: in effect, it is the “fifth generation” of mobile telecommunication. The most important innovation of 5G is related to speed: it will be possible to navigate up to 10 times faster than current speeds, with potential transfer speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second.

This will also influence a reduction in latency, that is, the reaction time of the mobile network. With a latency of 5 milliseconds, video calls and broadcasts will be practically simultaneous. And not only that: automated services such as autonomous vehicles will be able to react in time to any potential danger, thus completely changing the transport industry.

The above innovations, together with the increase in bandwidth, will make it possible to increase the number of devices simultaneously connected to a network. Consequently, digital devices will be able to communicate with each other in real time to share information. In practice, the combination of 5G technology with other innovations such as artificial intelligence will bring us closer to the so-called “Internet of Things”, where most processes will be automated, blurring the border between the digital and physical worlds. 

The origin of 5G technology and the revolution it brough

It is easier to understand the innovations  that the arrival of 5G will bring when we look at the technological milestones of previous generations: 1G only allowed phone calls, while 2G technology introduced SMS text messages. Starting with 3G, smartphones with an Internet connection arrived. Finally, the introduction of broadband with 4G opened up new possibilities such as streaming videos or virtual reality.

With the advent of a new generation of cellular networks, it is easy to believe that we have reached the end of the road or that progress will be less significant. On the contrary, 5G will represent a more radical change than the change from 3G to 4G: the increase in devices and data transfer speed will unleash a true digital revolution based on smart connectivity.

The future possibilities of this technology: innovations to come

As we have mentioned, 5G will generate a radical change in our society, moving us closer to a new paradigm of smart connectivity in which many more devices communicate with each other and the demands of society are satisfied much faster. However, 5G is just one more step in technological progress, and it is very likely that the next phases of development will bring even more drastic changes.

In fact, although 5G has not yet been fully implemented, there is already talk of the 6G technology that will replace it. The goal of this new generation will be to further reduce latency and increase data transfer speed. In the same way as 5G, this will help to develop different areas such as transport or medicine, allowing, for example, to perform remote surgical operations in real time.

Although it is estimated that 6G will not be rolled out until 2030, the first tests of this new technology will take place around 2026, so we won’t have to wait long to see the fruits of innovation in mobile networks, both in our daily lives and in the business world.

Is 5G technology dangerous?

It is to be expected that the introduction of a new technological paradigm entails certain doubts, fears and suspicions. 5G technology is no exception, and associations such as Ecologists in Action have called for strict controls to be carried out on its roll-out  to mitigate the consequences it could have on the health of citizens and the environment.

Since the introduction of mobile networks, the World Health Organization has been in charge of guaranteeing the security of new technologies. Already in 2006 it was studying the effects on health of wireless technologies. In their studies, they concluded that there was no convincing evidence of adverse health effects, considering the low level of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Of course, cellular networks have changed a lot in 15 years, so more research is needed on the potential dangers of this technology. In its latest study, the WHO concluded that no potential telecommunications-related health damage had yet been detected. Of course, it also stated that it would carry out a risk assessment on 5G, the results of which will be published in 2022.

The only WHO reference to a possible negative effect of wireless technology is its classification as a level 2B carcinogen. However, unlike Group 2A, this group includes products with a low carcinogenic probability, among which are common foods such as pickled gherkins or coffee. To put things into perspective, popular products such as alcohol or processed meats pose a much higher risk.

In conclusion, it seems that there is nothing to fear: the WHO, as well as institutions such as the Scientific Advisory Committee on Radio Frequencies and Health, are studying the effects that 5G could have on our health and are seeking to implement it with all the guarantees in place. For now, all the research indicates that it will not pose a health hazard at all, and we can benefit from a hyper-connected society without fearing for our well-being.