A deep dive - Find out all there's to know about 5G, 5G-E, and 5G Signal Boosters from a neutral perspective.
5G is what we will be calling the next generation of wireless networks. This 5th Generation wireless technology or 5G is mobile network technology, NOT the same as 5 Gigahertz or 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency. These two are totally different but frequently interchanged erroneously.
Similar to 4G, the new 5G service will be targeting mobile data, higher system capacity, reduced latency, energy savings, and delivering enormous device connectivity. While 5G will become the next generation of mobile broadband, it is important to note that, while 5G will eventually replace 4G, 5G will simply supplement your 4G LTE connection for the foreseeable future.
5G is being touted as the next major evolution in mobile technology and is predicted to dramatically improve driverless vehicles, mobile download speeds, M2M (machine to machine) communications, and connect our smart-phones, smarthomes, and our IoT (Internet of Things) devices easily and without obvious latency. (Latency can be described as the amount of time it takes for one device to send data to another device). The first order of business will be wireless competing with wireline home/office Internet service. That goal is to replace current cabled home/office Internet service with a wireless one. Next order of business will be cell phones, simply because most people own at least one phone, and our phones today are playing a very important role in our everyday lives.
5G will be so much better than 4G because of the data speeds. In fact, the main reason for the upgraded network is that we need to support the rapidly growing number of devices requiring Internet access. Many of these devices need so much bandwidth that 4G is no longer sufficient. As usage and number of smart mobile devices increases, available bands become more crowded, which results in an increase in dropped calls and longer download times. For example, currently, at the fastest 4G LTE speeds, a high definition movie could take 10 minutes to download. It is estimated that with 5G, it will take less than one second. The new 5G wireless technology will boost bandwidth, capacity, and the reliability of cellular broadband. Of course, 5G will deliver a whole lot more than just faster data speeds on mobile devices. We will experience many different industrial and consumer uses and applications, many of which currently seem unachievable because they seem so high-tech.
A number of different technologies will be utilized to make 5G work, ensuring that consumers have access to a fast, stable signal. These technologies include Massive MIMO, Small Cells, Millimeter Waves, Beamforming, And Full Duplex.
MIMO stands for multiple-input/ multiple-output. 5G macro cells will use MIMO antennas with multiple connections to simultaneously send and receive more data. The result will be that more users can connect to the network at the same time whilst maintaining high throughput. The reason MIMO antennas are often referred to as Massive MIMO is because of the large number of connections and multiple antenna elements. However, physically, the size is very similar to current 4G base station antennas. While current 4G base stations use 12 ports, 5G base stations will use up to 100, increasing a single base station’s capacity by more than 20 times.
A small cell is basically a miniature cell tower. Mini cell towers called small cells will be one of the major features of 5G networks. This is especially true for the new millimeter wave frequencies where there is a short connection range. An advantage of small cells is that they are portable and energy-efficient, so they can be clustered in areas that require more coverage, like major sporting events. They have superb added advantage of being easily installed onto existing structures without being an eyesore. These can be placed on buildings, light poles, and telephone poles. These small cells will take advantage of the Massive MIMO antennas.
To achieve the high, multi-gigabyte speeds required for 5G, carriers are turning to newer, higher frequencies known as millimeter waves. Currently in existing cellular bands, the spectrum is busy and heavily used. However, there are wide bands of spectrum available at 28 GHz and 39 GHz to enable the creation of big channels for high speeds. While this higher frequency will be much faster, it will only be able to travel short distances. This is why engineers will be using millimeter waves. These radio waves are measured in lengths of millimeters, and operate at very high frequencies.
Current cellular technology is reliant on radio frequencies that are capable of travelling long distances. However, the downside of these radio frequencies is that they also find it difficult to penetrate building materials. Because the waves are so small, signal can be interrupted by plant cover and inclement weather. Hopefully, these problems won't be as pronounced with small cells. To prevent this, a large number of mini cell towers like these will need to be installed everywhere across the country. This may take a while and therefore in-building coverage problem will unfortunately be tremendous at first. The problem will not be unsurmountable because cell hones will automatically fallback to the 4G network, if available. 4G cell phone signal boosters will continue to help during this period as they do now.
Beamforming has a streamlining effect. Currently, 4G LTE cellular antennas broadcast signals in all directions, which works well for the moment. However, with so many users today, and so much data, the reception is becoming sluggish and interference is increasing. This is where beamforming comes in. Acting like a traffic light, beamforming resolves these issues by locating the fastest route for data to travel. It guards against criss-crossing signals, thus reducing interference for Massive MIMO. Think of it as a traffic signaling system, identifying the quickest data delivery route to a specific user, at the same time reducing interference for other users. Beamforming strengthens the signal for millimeter waves, thereby eliminating blockage by objects.
Transceivers today either take turns when transmitting and receiving data over the same frequency, or if a user wants to transmit and receive data at the same time then the transceivers operate on different frequencies. The difference with a 5G transceiver is that it will be capable of simultaneously transmitting and receiving data on the same frequency and at the same time. It is anticipated that this "full duplex" technology will double a wireless network’s capacity. Engineers are now being tasked with utilizing improved transistors to design a circuit that can simultaneously route both incoming and outgoing signals, without collision.
Definitely not! There is no doubt that 5G will be revolutionary, but not even 5G will be perfect! One of the main issues with 5G has to do with the reason why this new technology is so fast. 5G uses millimeter waves, whereas 4G uses 15-40 cm long waves. The drawback with shorter waves and higher frequencies is that they don’t travel very far; whereas you could go 10 km and barely lose signal on 4G networks. 5G can’t go through rain or walls as easily, and maxes out at approximately 300 m. The result is that 4G can provide connectivity to approximately 1 million devices in 500 km², whereas 5G will provide connectivity to approximately 1 million devices in 1 km².
That is why inter-operability will be built in. It should be pointed out here that no cellular phone currently on the market today is truly 5G compatible, so users should not be rushing out and making new phone purchases simply to access 5G. The companies who are busy working on 5G modems are trying to ensure that new 5G technology will be seamless for both providers and consumers, and its anticipated that product trials will ensure a relatively smooth transition between standards.
It is important to note that neither 5G services nor 5G phones are currently available, and different carriers have different release dates. Over the past four years there has been a lot of hype about 5G, and not a lot of action, and this is because some of the technology required to deliver the innovative high-speed 5G service is still being finessed in research and design. However, that is now changing. In December 2017, the governing body of cellular standards, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, advised they had reached an agreement on the first 5G specification, stating that the 600 and 700 MHz bands and the 50 GHz millimeter-wave end of the spectrum will be covered.
In addition, the standard for 5G has not yet been finalized. This standard allows phone manufacturers to develop products that are, in fact, compatible with the new standard. The problem with this is that many carriers have already released official statements regarding 5G. Shortly before the Mobile World Congress, AT&T stated that 5G will be available in Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco. That led to Sprint’s claims that 5G will be available in six cities, including Chicago, LA, and Dallas. TMobile then surprised everyone by claiming that by the end of the year 5G services will be available in 30 cities in United States. No comment from Verizon at the moment, but they will certainly stay competitive.
"5G E" has been launched by AT&T, and this is certainly faster than regular 4G, but it is not actually 5G. AT&T has been strongly denounced by other carriers for its misuse of the term 5G E, stating that it is just a more advanced version of 4G LTE.
So, what does AT&T’s announcement mean? Is it just marketing hype? The answer is not a resounding yes, because 5G-E is a tad bit faster than 4G, but 5G is still not a reality for consumers. It is true that 5G E is faster than 4G LTE, but it doesn’t come close to reaching the speeds that 5G will eventually reach. The infrastructure required to support 5G services is going to take time. However, AT&T customers included in the testing market will be able to access 5G by using a Wi-Fi hotspot. And, we should remember that we won’t be able to purchase the phones required to support 5G speeds for T Mobile and Sprint until next year.
All this marketing hype probably sounds very familiar to people who were forced to wait for the required infrastructure to support 4G, including the many people in rural and remote areas who to this very day are still waiting. So why do we have to wait? Well, it is all about infrastructure. We can’t make phone calls over a network that doesn’t exist, so all this new technology must be developed, installed, then thoroughly tested.
The problem with 5G is that the hype surrounding the new service is outpacing the networks’ technical developments. To many people, the marketing campaigns surrounding 5G must feel very familiar to the fake 4G-LTE versus real 4G debacle, when 3G was being passed off as 4G. Now, today, we see history repeating itself, with AT&T’s 5G E being touted as 5G, when in actual fact it is a slightly faster version of 4G.
The truth is that the global 5G standard as set by the 3GPP has not yet been finalized. 3GPP stands for 3rd Generation Partnership Project: this group unites seven telecommunication organizations and provides members with a stable environment in which to produce reports and specifications that define their technologies. Milestones have been established along the way, however, establishing baselines for carriers to use as a benchmark in order to develop their own proprietary 5G services. It is these frameworks that will eventually lead to global 5G specifications, as set by the 3GPP. So, perhaps we have seen the first phase of 5G, but we have definitely not seen the real 5G which we anticipate will roll out sometime in 2020.
You may have heard about AT&T’s 5G E service and wonder whether this is the real deal. The truth is that AT&T’s 5G Evolution is possibly a quicker network than its current 4G network, but using the term 5G is simply a marketing strategy, designed to make AT&T appear to have the upper hand when it comes to 5G. Like all other carriers, AT&T is working hard on the real 5G network, which, as mentioned above, should be launched in the year 2020.
The proposed 5G service has indeed had a rocky start: it has been marred by conflicting standards, limited hardware tests, delayed rollouts, political wrangling, and a lot more. However, development is now well underway, with testbeds already live across the world. When the 5G networks do launch in 2020, they will initially work simultaneously with existing 3G and 4G technology.
In late February the Mobile World Congress was held and, at that time, a number of 5G phones were announced. This means that, very soon, some innovative (and exciting!) 5G phones will be hitting the market. For example, see this small list of 5G cellphones below:
A 5G modem has already been released by Qualcomm, a telecom designer of mobile chipsets. This modem was tested in 2018 by smartphone makers and 36 global carriers. We expect that Apple will wait for mainstream adoption (releasing in perhaps 2020 or 2021). However, it is expected that Android devices will be adopted later this year in 2019. Whether the release of the first generation of 5G phones will be smooth sailing or not remains to be seen. We expect that most will be carrier-locked, simply because each carrier will be using different frequencies to deliver their 5G service. In addition, the hardware available today has limitations and would not be able to support them all. That being said, once the technology is available, 5G carrier-unlocked phones will become available.
The aim of any 5G provider is to minimize problems, maximize distance, and obtain as much throughput as possible. There are disadvantages and advantages to using any part of the 5G spectrum, and not all service providers will be using the same frequency bands for 5G.
|AT&T||Fixed wireless||28/39 Ghz|
|T-Mobile||Fixed wireless||28/39 Ghz|
|Verizon||Fixed wireless||28 Ghz|
Fixed wireless for home and mobile for roaming are the two cases for the 5G category. Millimeter waves above 24 GHz are used for 5G fixed wireless. While millimeter wave bands can successfully transmit huge amounts of data, they are also limited by line-of-site transmission. This means that service can be disrupted by the slightest blockage. Therefore, millimeter wave bands are ideal for fixed wireless, but they are not great for mobile.
The following have already been approved by the FCC for licensed bands – 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz; with 64 to 71 GHz for unlicensed bands.
Sub-6 GHz bands currently used today by all 2G, 3G and 4G cellular services will be used for 5G mobile, allowing for broad 5G coverage utilizing technology already invested in for the deployment of current LTE services.
The use of radio spectrum around the globe is regulated by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). For any company to use a specific spectrum band it must be licensed or sold to the operator. Depending on the country, domestic use of radio spectrum is controlled by a regulatory body. For example, in the United States it is controlled by the FCC.
It is true that 5G is shaping up to be a very promising technology, but that doesn’t mean 4G will disappear once the 5G service is available. If you look at most of today’s networks you will see that there are areas where Voice over LTE is not yet available, 4G LTE is spotty at best, and carriers are relying very heavily on 3G coverage. It is believed that in the early 2020s, 5G will come to major urban markets, but it probably won’t be until around 2030 that full nationwide buildout will happen in rural areas.
4G is still increasing in bandwidth and performance, and we will eventually experience a world where 4G networks deliver 1 GB speeds. Basically, 4G will provide a solid base for 5G, with 4G technologies like MIMO enabling the performance of 5G. In addition, technologies like LWA, LAA, and LTE-U will further enable additional 4G bandwidth.
It is not expected that 4G LTE will peak until around 2028. Data rates up to 3 Gbps, similar to 5G speeds, are supported with improvements such as LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro. Carriers are in agreement that 4G LTE plays a very important role in 5G, and will continue to do so until such time as 5G fully matures. This could be anywhere between the years 2035 and 2040. In addition, 5G may encounter severe resistance from, or may even need to be wind-down or scrapped due to public safety health concerns raised by citizen's groups with legitimate concerns of unproven health safety effects of this new 5G technology. Therefore, there are many reasons why it seems that 4G LTE will still be around for many years to come.
5G E stands for 5G Evolution. "5G E" is simply 4G with some additional features to make it faster; but it is definitely not 5G. It is worth noting that other carriers have also rolled out the same features, but their networks are still called 4G, LTE, 4G Advanced, etc. Basically, 5G E is meaningless, and AT&T competitors have claimed it is simply a marketing strategy to make it look like AT&T is ahead of other carriers. The real 5G won’t work with existing phones because it will require new hardware radios to support 5G. It won’t be a simple matter of your current phone getting a software update in order to support 5G. It is unfortunate that AT&T’s attempt to beat its competitors to 5G is causing confusion for smartphone users, particularly now that they have announced that 19 cities will actually be getting the real 5G this year.
Yes, fortunately. SignalBooster.com can definitely help with weak 5G E signal. Our cell phone signal boosters that boost signal for 4G are the perfect solution, because 5G E is actually just a 4G band. The following phones can register 5G E speeds:
In addition, there are only certain areas in the following 12 cities where 5G E is available:
So, if you have a compatible phone and you struggle with weak or inconsistent 5G E signal in one of the above areas, SignalBooster.com can help.
SignalBooster.com's suggestion for AT&T 5G E in a room or very small home / office is the Flare:
The SureCall Flare is a very affordable option if you only need spot coverage.
Under ideal conditions, it can cover 1-2 rooms. Typical results indicate it can cover up to 2,500 sq. ft. with strong signal strength outside but normally covers easily up to 500 sq. ft. around interior desktop antenna.
This is a great option for a single office, home office and small areas like apartments and cabins.
SignalBoster.com also recommends the Fusion4Home signal booster for AT&T’s 5G E if flexibility needed to cover larger spaces:
The SureCall Fusion4Home is a highly recommended home booster for good reason. Not only is it dependable, but it provides network cover for most homes.
Under ideal conditions with strong outside signal, it can cover anywhere from 2,000 sq. ft. to up to 4,000 sq. ft. depending upon antenna configuration chosen and a home or office with an open-spaced layout.
Typical results indicate it will normally cover around 1,500 to 3,000 sq. ft., and slightly less in rural areas.
For larger spaces, SignalBooster.com recommends Fusion 5s:
The SureCall Fusion5s is the most potent consumer line booster available. It offers more gain than the Fusion4Home, and it is about 3 times more powerful.
Under ideal conditions, the it can densify cell phone network up to 7,000 sq. ft. Typical results indicate it will normally cover around 4,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. even if the outside signal is below average.
At SignalBooster.com, our most economical pick for AT&T’s 5G E in vehicles for a single device on cradle is the N-Range:
The SureCall N-Range delivers good performance and price for a single user.
It is mounted magnetically on a vent and it really shines for regular text and talk, and hands-free operation when paired with a Bluetooth headset.
To get maximum signal boost, the smartphone or cellular device such as MiFi has to be on the holder.
SignalBooster.com also recommends the multi-device boosting Fusion2Go 3.0 signal booster in vehicles for AT&T 5G E:
The powerful antenna outside picks up signal and it is broadcasts inside by a discreet inside antenna. It is best suited for typical sedans, trucks, or SUVs as you have to be about an arm's length away to receive the boosted signal.
Most customers in the city get at least 2 to 3 more bars. For areas that are off the grid, you have to be closer to the inside antenna to get more bars. Will boost signal for up to 4 devices at the same time.
For an RV, SignalBooster.com recommends the F2G 3.0 RV signal booster for recreational vehicles:
The SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV has twice the uplink power on most used frequencies than other brand competing boosters in the market.
This is the best option for RV drivers in poor signal or extremely rural areas. It will boost signal for up to 4 devices simultaneously.
For mid-size buildings, SignalBooster.com recommends the Fusion 5X 2.0 commercial signal booster for AT&T’s 5G E:
There are many signal boosters available for buildings that can cover from 7,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. This SureCall Fusion5x 2.0 is the most powerful model in that range covering roughly up to 20K sq. ft. depending upon outside signal strength, antenna configuration chosen, the build-out materials and architectural style of the building.
For the largest buildings with spaces requiring 100,000 sq. ft. coverage boost, SignalBooster.com recommends the Force 5 2.0 commercial grade signal booster for AT&T’s 5G E in tall buildings, skyscrapers, warehouses, etc.:
There are many signal boosters available for buildings that can cover from 20,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. This model, SureCall Force5 2.0 is at the highest end of the range with coverage up to 100K sq. ft. depending upon outside signal strength, antenna configuration chosen, the build-out materials and architectural design of the building. Multiple kits can be installed to cover larger than 100k sq. ft. in-building spaces
All 4G + 5G-E signal boosters listed above are suggestions and must not be construed as ideal for your circumstances. We recommend contacting us or submit location details and information for a site survey and system design for maximum cellular reception improvement at the lowest cost.
There are currently no true 5G cell phone signal boosters available on the market today except for Force 8 which is coming soon, much the same as 5G phones. In fact, based on all information about 5th Generation wireless technology stated above, 5G signal boosters are not needed at this time. Therefore, they have not been developed, nor designed, nor manufactured (except for industrial grade 5G signal booster, SureCall Force 8). Stay tuned...