5G Network Standard
MacFormat UK|June 2021
The clever but controversial communications tech explained
Carrie Marshall

In January 2020, a Belgian newspaper started a conspiracy theory that would end up with people in England setting fire to phone towers. The Het Laatste Nieuws published an article pointing out that since 2019, several 5G mobile phone towers had been erected in Wuhan in China… coronavirus came from Wuhan, therefore the conclusion for some was that ‘5G causes coronavirus’.

You can now make a good living on YouTube telling people that Bill Gates invented 5G to spread coronavirus so that we’d all get microchipped and forced to run Windows XP as the operating system for our brains.

It’s a shame that 5G has become something some people fear. It’s a wonderful, potentially world-changing communications technology that’s designed specifically for the demands of a society where everything is connected to everything else – and it all just works.

What is 5G anyway?

The G stands for generation, and 5G is the fifth generation of mobile phone technology. The first generation used analogue radio signals and was only capable of making voice calls; 2G went digital and introduced SMS texting; 3G delivered mobile data and 4G delivered it more efficiently and more quickly.

4G was when mobile broadband became a reality. Before then mobile data was too slow. Just ask anyone who bought the first iPhone in 2007: it didn’t even use 3G. Instead, it used an enhanced version of 2G phone technology called EDGE. Looking back it was absolutely awful, with terrible coverage and a theoretical top speed of just 384Kbps. Today, Apple says it’s achieving 4Gbps with the iPhone 12 in the US. That’s 10,416 times faster.

How 5G works

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