There’s this idea I’ve seen slowly starting to take shape that 5G internet will someday be able to solve America’s internet woes. The idea is simple in theory: By placing 5G towers in neighborhoods, houses can connect to these towers for their internet needs instead of using a cable or fiber line. Since 5G is so fast, this means you’ll get a much better connection, right? In theory, yes, but in practice, no. 5G is a pretty neat technology, but it has some pretty major fundamental flaws built into it, and the underlying technology that makes it faster can still face the same limits you do today. So if you have the choice between a fiber line and 5G internet always pick the fiber line. Why? Let’s get into that:
5G is Only Fast When You See It
This might sound silly, but it is ultimately true: 5G internet requires line of sight to maximize it’s speed. If even a leaf gets between you and the 5G tower, your signal will immediately drop to 4G speeds. There’s even concerns that rain can affect your 5G signal. This is all due to how 5G works: 5G operates on a much higher frequency spectrum, meaning that the waves it sends out go shorter distances and have a significantly harder time going through objects.
At its fastest, 5G cannot pass through any kind of solid materials, and may even have difficulty in certain weather conditions. This means that not only do you need line of sight to the 5G towers, but you also need more of these towers to get the same coverage. Having a tower down the street won’t do your house any good, just like having a fiber line that stops at your neighbors house won’t either. This leads into the second biggest issue 5G has:
5G Still Needs a Fast Connection
While your connection to a 5G tower might be fast, that 5G tower still needs to connect to the rest of the internet. If that connection is just what your house is using, then you’re going to face the same slow speeds you have today! This means that to really make the best use of the speed 5G provides, all of the 5G towers in your area will likely still need a fiber connection, since that’s going to be what can provide the fastest speeds to everyone connected to that tower.