What is 5G, and why should we want it?

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — If you own a smartphone, you’ve heard about 5G and how it’s going to revolutionize the world of data something on the order of moving from dial-up to high-speed modems. But what is it, exactly, and why are the airlines unhappy about it?

For starters, 5G is 10 times faster than current wireless networks. That means less (or no) lag time when you’re loading websites, downloading video or listening to audio streams. The 5G means “fifth-generation,” although we’re not sure who’s counting, in terms of the evolution of mobile networks. So, presumably, 1G was that clunky phone your dad carried in a vinyl bag back in the mid-’90s.

The faster network doesn’t just help your phone work faster, though. It’s also vital for the evolution of things like self-driving cars and robotic surgery. Your “smart” fridge will be able to tell you more quickly that you’re out of milk, as well.

The 5G offering works across three bands. The low band is the slowest (although still faster than today’s speeds) but covers the widest range. The mid-band is, as you’d assume, faster but with less coverage. The high band is the blazing-fast network which, for now, will likely only exist in major urban areas.

It’s the mid-band of 5G that’s causing issues with the airlines. Since it’s still a very powerful signal and covers a wide area, it has the potential to interfere with sensitive electronics aboard aircraft, especially the altimeters which tell pilots how far above ground they are. Modern planes aren’t susceptible, but some older planes that make up a lot of some fleets, such as the Boeing 777, are still considered vulnerable. Modifications to the airplanes are in the works.

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