5G Concerns (9 Controversies For Canadians To Be Aware Of)

Quick summary of 5G concerns discussed:


1. Will I have to get a new phone when 5G comes out?

2. Will the iPhone 11 work with 5G?

3. Will 5G make spying easier?

4. Can 5G be weaponized?

5. Will broadband be replaced by 5G?

6. Will 5G make my phone faster no matter which one I have?

7. Will I have to get an unlimited data plan to use 5G?

8. Will video streaming be the highest quality all the time with 5G?

9. Will 5G make reception available everywhere?


1. Will I have to get a new phone when 5G comes out?


Eventually, yes. You won’t be able to experience all the benefits of 5G without one. But in the meantime, you’ll definitely see a bump in 4G speed and clarity as construction on 5G systems continues.


5G infrastructure is piggybacking off the 4G system that's already in place. Among other things, this means that as 5G gets better, so does 4G. So if you continue to use a 4G LTE phone for a while, even after 5G is fully established, you’ll still have better speeds and service than you did before. Chances are, though, you’ll want to get a 5G phone. The difference in speed will eventually be too incredible.


So if you’ve been wondering if the advent of 5G means new phones for everyone, you’re right. But most people don’t need to rush out and get one right away. 5G availability is still a bit sparse. But certainly, if you live in a place where 5G is already increasing in efficiency, you may want to consider getting one sooner.


2. Is the iPhone 11 5G-compatible?


No, it isn’t. But the iPhone 12 is.


When Apple released its first 5G-enabled phone - the iPhone 12 - on Oct 23, other companies had already released 5G phones. (This is in large part due to the lockdown orders.) However, we all know there’s no way Apple will be left behind when all is said and done. All iterations of the iPhone 12 are 5G-compatible. And this is certainly just the beginning of what Apple will bring to the 5G table. Apple knows that their 2G to 3G transition some years ago did not go smoothly and it's safe to say they don’t intend to repeat those same mistakes.


3. Will 5G make spying easier?


Perhaps. However, the claims in support of this 5G controversy are tenuous.


The foundation for this 5G concern originates in England. In January 2020, the British government announced that the Chinese tech giant Huawei would be allowed “a limited role” in designing and implementing the UK’s long-awaited 5G network. This was controversial due to the heavy-handed nature of China’s surveillance state. Some, including Pres. Trump, were very outspoken regarding the “threat to national security” that Huawei posed.


6 months later in July, even though the Chinese corporation had already made some headway on the new infrastructure, the Brits reversed their decision and banned Huawei from any participation in their 5G network whatsoever. What’s more, Huawei was instructed to remove all of its equipment. Needless to say, this set the UK back a bit on their 5G timeline.


Many were happy with this decision since it quelled much of the fears that Huawei’s involvement stirred up. Fears including surveillance, cyberattacks, espionage, and the concern that Huawei could shut down the hardware at will. Many considered these possibilities too risky given the hyper-connected world that 5G is expected to build. To date, it appears that much of the world is in favor of Britain’s decision regarding Huawei’s involvement. Signs thus far do point toward this being a wise choice as it will favor a safer, healthier, and more varied telecom market.


4. Can 5G be weaponized?


In theory, perhaps. But not in reality.


This 5G concern is based on the science of mmWave technology, which is the foundation of 5G technology. To be more specific, those who are concerned about the potential to weaponize 5G cite a US military prototype currently in development. It’s a crowd control device that uses millimeter waves to send out a focused beam of energy. People experience an uncomfortable heating sensation on the skin, prompting them to relocate. It’s not intended to cause pain, just a high level of discomfort.


Fortunately for all of us, the fact that this military prototype and 5G technology both utilize millimeter waves does not translate to what many alarmists propose. It is beyond current technological possibilities for 5G towers to be fitted with a destructive heat ray (or whatever people are envisioning) that uses mmWaves to zap people. Still, some may argue that such a thing will eventually be possible.


Maybe.


Every time a new technology comes around, there are detractors and conspiracists. And it’s not that these people are always wrong. But we are saying that when it comes to 5G, the real advantages and capabilities will make themselves known in the future rather than at the moment of availability. This was also the case with 4G. When it was close to rolling out, there were people concerned about the amount of electromagnetic radiation involved. Time showed that these concerns were largely unfounded.


There’s no denying that 5G has untapped and undiscovered potential. It’s still in its infancy and there are many tests yet to be run. A healthy degree of skepticism is certainly warranted. But there just isn’t conclusive data to support the weaponization theory with certainty.


5. Will broadband be replaced by 5G?


No, it won’t. At least not right away.


The truth is that once 5G is largely available like 4G is now, the in-home internet experiences of most people won’t change much. Remember that 5G is not home internet technology. It’s not a hardline. It’s mobile technology. Broadband and fiber internet isn’t going anywhere despite all the expectations of 5G. That being said, there’s no way for us to know everything that future technology will bring. The rate at which technology advances continues to increase. Things that are commonplace to us today will likely seem archaic 20, perhaps even 10, years from now.


Who knows. Maybe in a few short years, 5G will be so fast that we’ll all be buying 5G routers that utilize the fast speeds outside and bring them indoors via a hardline somehow.


6. Will 5G make my phone faster no matter which one I have?


Yes, it will (assuming you have a 4G or 3G phone).


That doesn’t mean that 5G will boost 4G speeds for everyone everywhere all at once. The 5G rollout is a process that will continue to take time. Some areas currently have it. Most others don’t. In fact, just because an area near you gets 5G doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel the benefits right away. Multiple factors affect 5G availability. 5G doesn’t have quite the reach that 4G does, so more towers and equipment need to go up per square mile. Your geographic location plays a role, as well. But the fact remains that 5G will enhance 4G as a result of it being built on top of the 4G infrastructure.


This is largely due to DSS, or dynamic spectrum sharing, which is a key aspect of 5G technology. It allows multiple networks the ability to use the same 4G and 5G spectrum bands. This means, among other things, as 5G progresses, 4G will also increase in speed and efficiency. So even if you don’t get a 5G phone right away when the service becomes available in your area, your 4G phone will still experience a boost.


To learn more about DSS, click here.


7. Will I have to get an unlimited data plan to use 5G?


Though this question hasn’t been answered officially, the answer is almost certainly yes.


The good news here is that unlimited plans are much more common and way more affordable than they used to be. So this shouldn’t be a looming issue for most people. If it is for you, some more good news is that pricing models consistently change over time. So more than likely, it will become more affordable given time.


As of right now, Verizon and AT&T both require unlimited plans to use 5G. They’re even considering an additional charge for 5G access. For 5G users, Verizon adds a $10 fee and requires an unlimited plan. They have 4 such plans to choose from. AT&T has a 5G monthly up-charge.


T-Mobile does not have a 5G up-charge. Every customer paying for an unlimited plan will have 5G access.


It’s important to remember that when 4G came out, pricing models were much different than they are today. Pricing models always change. It will certainly happen with 5G. Prices are never set in stone.


8. Will video streaming be the highest quality all the time with 5G?


Not necessarily.


This is more of a FAQ than a controversy. It comes up enough that it’s worth including here.


Just having a 5G-compatible phone in a 5G-enabled area doesn’t mean your set with the highest quality streaming at all times. Just like 4G, coverage quality can fluctuate for many reasons. Quality can differ between streaming apps, as well. Netflix subscribers offer different plans (basic, premium, etc), for example. Each tier offers a better streaming quality. Hulu is similar in this way. You’ll need to have access to an ultra-high-definition or 4K Ultra HD plan to experience 5G streaming in its purest form.


Another thing to remember is that just because 5G is available doesn’t mean all streaming everywhere will suddenly get better. This is a misconception. We’ve already mentioned that 4G will be enhanced. That is of course still true. And 5G will absolutely increase streaming quality. But in order for this to happen to you, you’ll need a 5G phone, 5G service availability, and the proper streaming service plan.


9. Will 5G make reception available everywhere?


No.


Have you heard the term digital divide? It refers to the reality that there are still many areas that not only don’t have mobile data access, they don’t have internet at all. The shared goal of every telecom company is to eventually connect the whole world with super-fast data speeds. But if you’re hoping that 5G will make this a reality right away, you’ll be disappointed.


Don’t let that get you down, though. 5G is capable of things far beyond anything that 4G has made possible. Given time, 5G will get better and better. And as it does, it will benefit our lives in many new and exciting ways. But 5G certainly will not close the digital divide in an instant. The worldwide transition to 5G, though well underway, will take time. Many areas, especially agricultural and rural, don’t even have 4G access, let alone 5G. These areas that are already used to having spotty (or no) service will likely remain that way for some time.


However, when 5G’s true potential is unleashed and widely accessible, a fully connected world won’t seem very far off.


5G Concerns (9 Controversies For Canadians To Be Aware Of) - Conclusion


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