What is 5G?
5G is the fifth-generation technology for cellular networks. It promises to deliver blazing fast speeds, low latency, massive capacity, and greater reliability. The capabilities of such a network go far beyond telecommunication. 5G will expand the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem and transform tons of industries. To cater to different applications, 5G operates across several frequency bands.
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What are 5G Frequency Bands?
5G devices and 5G towers communicate wirelessly via radio waves. These radio waves are tuned to specific frequencies within the radio spectrum allocated for 5G.
5G frequency bands are made up of a range of frequencies. Cellular carriers own sections of different bands to build their 5G network. Speed and range of 5G cellular signals will vary depending on where the 5G frequencies fall within the spectrum.
5G Spectrum – What Frequencies Does 5G Use?
Image Source: Hillnotes.ca
The radio spectrum ranges from 3 kHz to 300 GHz. Multiple frequencies are needed to deploy 5G. It operates on three frequency bands: low-band, mid-band, and high-band (mmWave).
Low-Band 5G represents frequencies below 1 GHz. Currently, in Canada, Low-Band 5G operates on the 600 MHz band, which covers 614-698 MHz. Within the next few years, more low-band spectrum will be made available. The ISED has suggested in the Outlook Consultation that the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands should be reviewed for 5G use.
Being on the lower end of the spectrum, these frequencies can travel long distances and aren't as easily affected by obstacles. Thus, they’ll play a huge role in delivering next-generation wireless connectivity to those in outlying suburban and rural areas. Speed, however, will be pretty similar to 4G.
Mid-Band 5G is thought of as the “just right” band. Operating between 1 GHz to 10 GHz, it offers the perfect blend of speed, coverage, and capacity. The 3.5 GHz (launched in 2022) and 3.8 GHz (to be actioned in 2023) bands are viewed as key spectrums for 5G technology by the ISED. Mid-band is ideal for suburban and urban environments where demand is consistently high.
Most Canadian carriers are using the 1.7/2.1 GHz and the 3.5 GHz bands for their 5G service. Rogers is currently the only cellular provider using the 2.5 GHz band. The ISED has plans to release more mid-band spectrum within the next few years.
High-Band 5G or mmWave 5G
The high-band spectrum refers to frequencies above 10 GHz. High-Band 5G or mmWave 5G, not yet available in Canada, will operate above 20 GHz. This is where users will experience those blazing fast speeds and ultra-low latency 5G promises. However, the tradeoff is range.
mmWaves can only travel short distances and can’t penetrate buildings. The waves are easily disrupted. To relay these signals inside buildings, 5G antennas and equipment will be needed.
This spectrum is best for densely populated urban areas and busy venues. Featuring higher capacity, the network will be able to handle more devices at a time. Unreliable connectivity due to high traffic will be significantly mitigated with High-Band 5G.
How Do I Connect to Different 5G Bands?
5G devices are programmed to automatically pick up 5G signals. Though, there are a few requirements that must be met to access the 5G network. They include being in a 5G area, using a 5G device, and having a 5G plan. For more information, visit “How to Get 5G”.
What is the Best Frequency for 5G?
Truth be told, there is no “BEST” frequency band. All bands cater to different demands. Low-Band 5G offers the most coverage, High-Band 5G will provide the best speeds, and Mid-Band 5G excels at both.
Which 5G Band Is Fastest?
Higher frequencies provide faster data transmissions. By far, mmWave 5G is the fastest 5G band. Under optimal conditions, it’ll provide a minimum of 1 Gbps.
What 5G Frequencies Does Each Carrier Use?
Not all cellular carriers use the same 5G frequency bands. They purchase licenses for exclusive rights to specific frequencies that align with their goals.
|Carriers:||Low-Band 5G Freq:||Mid-Band 5G Freq:||High-Band 5G Freq:|
|Bell Mobility||TBD||1.7/2.1 GHz: Band 66
3.5 GHz: Band n78
|Rogers||600 MHz: Band n71||1.7/2.1 GHz: Band 66
2.5 GHz: Band n41
3.5 GHz: Band n78
|Telus Mobility||600 MHz: Band n71||1.7/2.1 GHz: Band 66
3.5 GHz: Band n78
*This table is subject to change, as more frequencies are auctioned off for use.
Future 5G Frequency Deployments
The following image, developed by the ISED, illustrates future 5G frequencies and their priority. The timeline of each frequency's deployment is not available right now.
Image Source: ISED Spectrum Outlook 2018-2022
Who Has Access to the Widest 5G RF Spectrum?
Why are 5G Bands Important?
Every year the number of cellular connected devices increases. This includes smartphones, security systems, cellular routers, and other cellular IoT units. Previous generation cellular frequencies could only support so many devices at a time. During congestion, speed and reliability drastically decrease. Eventually, capacity runs out.
5G allows more devices to use data faster and more efficiently. Using different bands isn’t just about a hulked-out cellular network. It opens the door for new use cases, such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, digital health, drones, and much more. To deliver on the 5G promise, carriers must use a mix of 5G frequencies to cater to different data demands.
In rural environments where cell towers are sparse, coverage is more important to reach as many devices as possible. This is where Low-Band 5G will make a big impact. Data demand and traffic increase in the suburbs and cities. More capacity and speed are needed to keep devices connected. That’s what Mid-Band 5G and High-Band 5G will do.
How to Get Better 5G Signals Indoors?
Your environment and building material can impact indoor 5G coverage. Currently, there is no perfect way to improve 5G coverage in homes and offices. Though, the best option available is a 5G-ready cell phone signal booster. It uses:
- An external antenna to capture existing 5G signals
- Coaxial cable to bypass building materials
- An amplifier to enhance the signal
- An indoor antenna to rebroadcast the boosted signal indoors
There is one catch, though. Signal boosters only work with certain frequencies. The most common are 700 MHz, 850 MHz, 1700/2100 MHz, and 1900 MHz. The booster will only support 5G signals deployed on those bands.
As 5G evolves and technology adapts, more options will become available.
Our weBoost and WilsonPro signal boosters are 5G ready and work with all cellular providers. Wilson Amplifiers is the leading provider of home, office, and vehicle signal boosters. If you have any questions about 5G frequencies or need help finding a booster, we can help. Call (1-800-373-2927), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or chat with us.
- Spectrum Outlook 2018 to 2022 | Industry Canada
- Consultation on the Spectrum Outlook 2018 to 2022 | Government of Canada Publications
- Bell Announces 5G+ Service on Mid-Band Spectrum | ITWorldCanada
- Rogers Launches Faster 5G Service on 3500MHz Mid-Band Spectrum | ITWorldCanada
- Rogers Doubles the Size of Canada’s First and Largest 5G Network | Rogers
- TELUS Secures New 600 MHz Spectrum Licences | Telus
- TELUS Deploys 3500 MHz 5G Spectrum | Telus
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