Cellular technology is always growing and changing to help us discover solutions to problems we may not even consider. We aim to achieve more power, gain faster speeds, and ensure we’re connected as often as possible, no matter where we are.
Advances in cellular technology often mean new terminology to learn and concepts to understand. One common phrase that’s gaining more prominence in the world of 5G is "millimeter wave." However, many people don’t have a clear understanding of what this wave is, how it works, and what practical applications it has in our daily lives.
Looking at the details of technology allows us to ease it into our lives and helps prevent the spread of misinformation and misconceptions. Today, SureCall Boosters is here to explain what millimeter waves are and six things to know about them to help you grasp the idea better.
What Is a Millimeter Wave?
Millimeter waves, sometimes known as millimeter bands or mmWaves, are a tool used in broadcasting frequencies. These waves fluctuate between 30 and 300 gigahertz, which may seem like a dramatic difference compared with older cellular waves that came in at less than 6 gigahertz.
The reason we refer to them as millimeter waves is because of their physical construction. While many current smartphone waves measure tens of centimeters in length, millimeter waves vary in size between 1 and 100 millimeters, making their name more literal and easier to understand.
1. Millimeter Wave Is Not 5G
One of the most common misconceptions about millimeter waves is that the term is synonymous with 5G. While all examples of mmWaves fall under 5G, it doesn’t mean that 5G broadcasting options automatically utilize millimeter waves.
Because millimeter bands only fall under a spectrum of the 5G wavelength, there are frequency options that may be higher or lower than what millimeter waves are capable of. You can still have 5G without millimeter waves, but all practical applications of millimeter waves fall somewhere on the broadband opportunities of which 5G is capable.
2. Millimeter Waves Don’t Permeate Solid Materials
Many people often have misconceptions about new wavelengths and how different frequencies may impact our daily lives. Some people think that millimeter waves’ smaller size will allow them to permeate solid objects like concrete or even get into our bloodstream by moving through our skin.
Simply put, no—this is not the case. Most solid building materials like brick or cement actually reflect high-frequency waves and cause them to bounce around regions rather than penetrate them. Because of the way these waves move around, you may still experience weaker signals if there are a lot of physical obstructions. So while you don’t need to maintain a perfect line of sight with towers that are putting out millimeter waves, you also don’t need to worry about them penetrating solid objects.
Truthfully, even something as innocuous as rain can have significant effects on the strength of millimeter waves and other 5G connections. Rain, fog, and other increases in humidity can make the air denser, which may cause the power of the signal to degrade slightly. If a simple summer shower can disrupt the flow of millimeter waves, you can rest easy knowing they aren’t going to phase through the walls of your home.
3. Millimeter Waves Aren’t Dangerous
One of the things to know about millimeter waves is that they aren’t dangerous. Nearly every time there are advances in cellular technology, people start spreading rumors or misunderstanding the terminology to make it seem more dangerous than it is. As it stands, there is no evidence or history to indicate that millimeter waves or 5G in general pose any health risk to people.
Most of the misunderstandings come from the reality that cell phones emit a specialized type of radiofrequency radiation. However, credible sources dictate that cell phones emit nonionizing radiation, which is harmless to humans and proposes no real danger to our physical or mental health. Other devices, such as x-ray machines, emit ionizing radiation that we want to limit or cushion our exposure to. Fortunately, no such trouble exists with mobile phones.
4. Millimeter Waves Have Shorter Range
Despite millimeter waves sounding like the future of mobile coverage, they actually have a surprisingly short range and aren’t intended to provide widespread coverage. Base stations that emit millimeter waves typically only reach about a kilometer out, and probably less due to blockages from physical obstructions. Companies would need to install far more stations packed closer together to reach the same level of coverage that we already have with 4G wavelengths.
Because of this, it’s unlikely that rural regions or small towns will benefit from millimeter waves and may not ever get them at all. Millimeter waves are best for getting people in a compact area connected. So if the waves don’t reach your area, you’re likely in a spot that wouldn’t benefit from them in the first place.
5. Millimeter Waves Have a Slow Rollout
Many people point out that 5G has had a slow rollout since its initial conception, but even fewer places are experimenting with the positive effects of millimeter waves. Right now, the primary countries rolling out millimeter wave frequencies are the United States, China, and Japan. Other countries are still testing 5G in specialized areas, but mmWaves may have a slower rollout in centralized areas than other more common aspects of 5G.
6. Millimeter Waves Aren’t the Fastest
The main concept behind millimeter waves isn’t necessarily about achieving the best speed. In fact, current gigabit LTE networks are already capable of matching or even surpassing the speeds of mmWaves. While LTE options may be faster, they may not do as good of a job of accommodating large clusters of people, which is what millimeter waves hope to achieve. Millimeter waves can provide reliable coverage for short but densely packed areas and increase the amount of available bandwidth per individual without sacrificing connectivity.
To learn more about maintaining reliable cellular signals, SureCall Boosters has everything you need. We have an impressive range of commercial cell phone signal boosters and helpful blogs explaining advances in cellular technology. To get the most out of your mobile phone, let SureCall Boosters be here for you. Consider browsing our online catalog, or for more information, you can reach out to us via email at Sales@SureCallBoosters.co.ca.