Posted on February 17, 2021in DAS
he growing prevalence of 5G technology has spurred a lot of excitement and a lot of misunderstanding.
But what is 5G?
The term refers to the fifth generation of wireless cellular networking. While nationwide coverage is now available, PCMag reported in November 2020 that many users will only begin to really feel the benefits of the 5G experience and associated applications sometime in 2021 or 2022.
Along similar lines, seamless in-building 5G coverage may still be a ways off in the future.
Those who’ve bought into the myths surrounding 5G safety hazards may see this as a blessing, but the technology is widely considered to be safe.
We’ll explore the truth about 5G, dispel some rumors and discuss how building administrators and operators can best prepare for the road to in-building 5G today.
5G Safety: Myth vs. Reality
Few innovations in recent years have been surrounded by as much misinformation as 5G. In a misguided attempt to promote public safety or to deflect from other issues, many people have too readily accepted myths surrounding the latest evolution of cellular technology.
The Myth: 5G Is Untested and It Spreads Disease
In 2020, it was widely — and falsely — suggested in some corners that 5G could be responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The myth was so pervasive, and so demonstrably incorrect, that the World Health Organization published an infographic refuting the claim and clarifying that it’s impossible for viruses to travel over radio waves or mobile networks. The authors also pointed out that COVID-19 was present in areas that did not have 5G coverage.
Skepticism surrounding the new wireless technology is not limited to coronavirus conspiracy theories, however. Others have made unfounded claims that 5G networks cause cancer or kill wildlife, for instance.
The Reality: 5G Rumors Are Unfounded
In June 2020, Business Insider shared the perspective of Dr. Eric van Rongen, vice chair of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. In the article, van Rongen points out that the nonionizing radiation that results from 5G is vastly different from ionizing radiation, the type that’s associated with nuclear energy and its negative health outcomes.
How Close Are We to In-Building 5G Accessibility?
Since it may seem like 5G coverage is suddenly everywhere, you might be wondering how long it will take before you’re able to enjoy full in-building access to the faster speeds, lower latency and new applications promised by this technology. The unfortunate answer is that we’re not there yet, but there are steps you can take to get ready.
Issues To Be Resolved
Currently, manufacturers are facing a lag in clarity from carriers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) around what frequency band providers will use in which areas. This delay means that equipment manufacturers have not yet been able to produce, at scale, the hardware necessary for facilitating in-building 5G coverage. Integrators are also waiting for more specific plans from carriers.
This means that, while nationwide 5G infrastructure currently exists, integrators are often unable to determine how to implement in-building solutions or to even acquire the equipment needed for these projects. For example, specific millimeter-wave (mmWave) antennas may be needed for certain projects, but integrators may not yet know whether they’ll be required for all rooms in a building, and these experts may not even be able to purchase the necessary equipment from manufacturers yet.
Best Practices to Set the Stage for In-Building 5G
While Verizon recently completed trials with its technology partners for the creation of indoor cell sites, this product is intended for the carrier’s enterprise customers.
To prepare for future in-building 5G solutions, many building administrators will want to start now so they’re ready for future hardware developments as well as additional information from carriers and the FCC. To do so, any related implementations taking place currently should leverage only the latest original equipment manufacturer (OEM) technology, ideally only using items from within the last six months. As further guidelines are provided, make sure that they apply to your area, too. Where possible, avoid setting yourself up to have to use an overlay in the future.
Start Preparing for Safe In-Building 5G Coverage Today
While in-building 5G might not be in your immediate future, partnering with a dedicated, knowledgeable integrator can get you one step closer to enjoying this next-generation technology throughout your facility in the near future.