What Are the Differences Between a 4G and a 5G Tower?
Cellular networks are the most common way of staying connected in the world. Even in areas where the signal is weak, you can use a cell phone signal booster to get more bars.
5G is the latest form of cellular technology. Working in tandem with existing 4G, it provides faster data while 4G covers larger distances and allows for voice and text.
4G towers cover the globe already and in between them you can begin to see 5G towers popping up. So far these are mostly found in urban areas, but we will start to see them all over as technology develops. But what are the differences between them? How do you know if you have a 5G tower near you?
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What Do 5G and 4G Towers Look Like?
5G towers tend to be smaller than their 4G counterparts. You’ll find them placed closer together than 4G towers, about 500 to 1000 ft apart. They make use of different hardware called small-cell technology.
5G towers or masts broadcast high bandwidth millimeter wave (mm-Wave) frequencies that allow for high-speed data transfers. Shortly we will begin to see them broadcasting on the so-called goldilocks spectrums of the C-band as well, delivering both speed and distance. Either way, the hardware and aesthetics of the 5G tower will remain the same.
The antennas and panels on a 5G tower are much smaller than their 4G counterparts. They can often be mounted on utility poles and don’t need massive purpose-built masts. The actual hardware to broadcast 5G is just a small box and can be mounted anywhere. When you travel around the city, keep an eye out for discreet boxes mounted on lamp posts or other utility poles.
4G towers are the big generic cell phone towers that you see all over the country. In the city, their hardware could be mounted in buildings, or on large masts. Big metal frames bristling with antennas and dishes are difficult to hide, so are often designed to look like trees. When 4G towers were first erected many had trees panted around them to camouflage them somewhat. The trees of course then grew and ended up blocking the cell signal from the very towers they were planted to hide. 4G towers can of course be kitted out with 5G hardware as well.
How Many 5G Towers Will There Be?
5G is a higher frequency network than 4G. It is faster, but the signal doesn't travel as far. To combat this, we need more 5G towers per area. Although the number of towers per square mile is higher, they are smaller, and their hardware supports as many functions and standards as possible. This means that they will need less upgrading in the future. You may not even notice when a 5G tower goes up in your neighborhood. They are designed to blend into the surrounding area, providing fast stable connection without intruding on your life.
The exception to the rule when it comes to 5G towers is T-Mobile's 5G. They use Extended Range 5G, which works on a lower frequency. Because of this, they are simply repurposing their towers from 4G to 5G, without having to add extra 5G masts.
Why are 5G Towers So Small?
5G works with something called small-cell technology. These so-called small cells are little radio transceivers that send and receive radio signals on a very high frequency. They need very little power to run and can be installed in all sorts of places. Think of a small-holed mesh, providing blanket coverage with lots and lots of little nodes, instead of a big web with only a few large towers. The smaller mesh can transfer data faster as there are more towers.
Each of these small cell towers has antennas and carrier-specific radios inside them. These little radio receivers are connected via fiber, wired, or microwave backhaul. These small cell radios can connect with both 5G and 4G devices, using a range of frequencies. These small cell towers can cover between 30 to 8,000 ft. These small cells are important because together they form a network that can carry more traffic at a faster speed than the older 4G network.
Are 5G Towers Dangerous?
No. 5G is not dangerous at all. It’s just the newest generation of cellular technology. The G in 4G and 5G stands for “generation”. 1G came into existence as long ago as the early 1980s, although it could only transfer voice and not data. 2G gave us some data transfer and was the official birth of the smartphone revolution.
Cellular wireless technology has been around us for almost half a century. The FDA has done numerous tests and conducted lots of research to find out if the RF (radiofrequency) radiation that they give off is harmful. As for 5G, most of the frequencies that are used for it have been used in the past for other things. Therefore, if 5G is dangerous, then we have already been using those so-called dangerous frequencies for a long time, and we should have been seeing the effects of it ages ago.
Conclusion: How To Tell The Difference Between A 4G And A 5G Tower
Simply put, 4G towers are the big masts with lots of antennas that you can find all over the country. 5G towers are discreet boxes, often mounted on utility poles. There are many more 5G towers than there are 4G, usually in urban areas. The 5G network is expanding, however, and you can expect to find them in suburban and eventually rural areas soon.
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