There is a misconception that 5G technology will replace fibre. While wireless connections can be a useful way to connect remotely, 5G is not the answer for every situation.
5G networks can operate on several different frequencies, but the higher frequencies do not penetrate buildings and trees as well as the lower frequencies.
The reality is that 5G wireless networks and fibre optic networks will complement each other, both offering a cohesive Internet experience.
Fibre Internet networks are made up of fibre optic cables, comprised of long thin strands of glass covered in plastic. The glass has the ability to pass a large number of light frequencies through the strand with very little loss allowing for faster transmission of information.
Optical fibre transmits “data” by light to a receiving end, where the light signal is decoded as data.
Light travels down a fibre optic cable by bouncing off the walls of the cable repeatedly. The light in the fibre strand can carry more than 70 kilometres without encountering any interruptions, giving way to more usable bandwidth than coaxial cables.
In essence, fibre optic networks are limited only by the technology used to transmit and receive signals.
5G is the fifth generation of mobile wireless technology. It will allow for greater numbers of channels, faster speeds, lower latency, and the ability to connect more devices at the same time.
In terms of technology, 5G uses millimetre radio waves for sending and receiving data. There are three main kinds of 5G—low-band, mid-band, and high-band. 5G speeds are directly related to how wide the available channels are, and how many are available.
Using high frequencies requires many more transmitters, closer to the homes and offices that need internet access. These transmitters are typically connected to the internet backbone by fibre.
The higher frequencies do not penetrate buildings and trees as well as the lower frequencies. They’re also very short range.
The low and mid-band frequencies don’t suffer the same issues with distance or drywall. But these frequencies can’t match the speed or its spectrum of fibre optics.
5G networks have a much shorter reach which means it will require telecoms companies to build large numbers of small cell antennae in close proximity to one another to avoid dropouts.
Whereas fibre optics can carry a signal over much longer distances, approximately 70kms, due to their low rate of signal power loss.
Currently, fibre is only limited in speed by the technology we place at each end. Researchers have found that a 100% fibre optic-based system can offer speeds over 100,000 Gigabits a second.
Once the fibre cable is installed to homes, speed upgrades will be just a matter of upgrading the equipment on both ends of the fibre.
Whereas 5G has a download speed of up to 20 Gbps and 10 Gbps for upload. Of course, whether those speeds can be achieved at your home will depend on a range of factors including the strength of signal and network congestion.
Both communication networks come with a host of benefits.
There is a misconception that 5G technology will replace fibre but the reality is that 5G wireless networks and fibre optic networks will complement each other, both offering cohesive connectivity.
To have every phone, smart sensor and mobile device directly connected to a fibre backbone network would be the most ideal, but that places limits on mobility of devices.
5G bridges the gaps between a mobile device and a resides or business on a fibre network, providing superfast connectivity no matter what location.