Making Waves: The Raging Debate About 5G

Have you seen signs on neighbours’ lawns proclaiming the evils of 5G? Would you like to understand what 5G is, how it works, where it differs from current technology, and why that matters? Co-hosts Jim Love, CIO of ITWC, and Doug Sparkes, a lecturer at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, answer the most frequently posed 5G questions and have some fun at the same time in the first segment of Deeper Dive – Series Two, an ITWC podcast series sponsored by Wipro Canada.

Setting the Scene

5G Without the Hype begins by taking the listener to the Dutch metropolis of Groningen, where an unidentified man disrupts a quiet Friday evening by setting a cell tower on fire. With that criminal act, he joins a wave of 5G protests that has targeted cell towers and related equipment in the UK, Europe, and North America.

Love and Sparkes highlight the ironies in many of these attacks, citing a variety of cases that speak to misdirected protests. In many such recorded incidents, they say the towers that were damaged were for older 3G and 4G services, and had nothing to do with 5G. In other instances, attacks made purportedly to ensure public health, did serious damage instead by knocking out the communication systems at hospitals.

“Even more ironic,” says Sparkes, “is that many of the use cases for 5G involve improving health services in areas ranging from safer patient transportation to remote surgery”.

The Magic and the Science

Sharing a childhood memory of rewiring his radio to listen to a distant Chicago station, Love segues into the magic of wireless transmission. Sparkes riffs on this to explain the science of electromagnetic waves, something that comes into play whether talking about Love’s old analogue-based tube radio or 5G. A discussion of AM vs FM radio moves quite naturally to cellular radio and the frequencies required to accommodate modern-day communications.

The big deal about all of this, as discussed by Love and Sparkes, isn’t just faster transmission of movies and lower latency, but instead it’s the way that lower latency is able to open up new applications that can feel like real time. “This is where you can start to imagine the potential for things like remote surgery and self-driving cars,” says Sparkes.

For Love, it amounts to far more connections, a wealth of data, and the need for many more cells in closer proximity. “That’s the power and the challenge of 5G,” he says. “On one side, you have a small group of people who are vehemently opposed to it. On the other hand, there are many who argue that 5G will revolutionize all aspects of our increasingly mobile and digital lives.”

Sit back, grab a coffee and tune in to this episode of 5G Without the Hype.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau is a communications specialist based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where working remotely continues to fuel her passion for new mobile technologies -- especially on snowy days.

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