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What Is Non-Cellular 5G and Can It Revolutionize the Internet?

5G has taken off, with more and more carriers worldwide upgrading their networks to offer the next-generation mobile network. But the adoption has been slow. Part of the problem is the hidden infrastructure costs associated with 5G.

Non-cellular 5G aims to do away with these costs and make 5G accessible to everyone.

Before we dive into non-cellular 5G, let's understand how 5G works and see the problems that plague it.

5G is the 5th generation mobile network set to revolutionize telecommunications. It is not only the fastest cellular network but is also the most responsive and has the highest bandwidth. These qualities make 5G a massive cellular network breakthrough with the potential to change the way we connect.

5G is the next step up from 4G. But unlike the legacy 1G, 2G, and 3G networks, 5G doesn't make the 4G obsolete.

The problem of infrastructure development was the biggest hurdle stopping the mass adoption of previous generation networks. For instance, 4G has been around since the 2010s, but it never made it to the consumer until years later. The reason for this delay is 4G's incompatibility with 3G network infrastructure.

Things work a little differently in the case of 5G since it doesn't need to revamp 4G infrastructure from the ground up. 5G devices, for example, take advantage of the 4G network to establish a connection. So, the transition from 4G to 5G has been relatively quick, although it will still take time before carriers can cover a significant landmass.

How Does 5G Work?

5G uses a spectrum of radio frequencies or airwaves to transmit data. The frequencies that 5G uses can range anywhere from sub-2GHz to 100GHz. The increased range of airwaves gives carriers lots of choices when it comes to operating a 5G network.

Based on the frequency of the airwave a network uses, we can divide 5G into three types:

Low-band 5G uses sub-2GHz radio frequencies. Such low-frequency channels are great for long distances. This is why these channels are used by carriers for 4G. However, the speed isn't impressive because low-band 5G has to share these channels with 4G. So, if you use low-band 5G on your phone, you won't notice any real speed advantage over 4G.

Mid-band 5G uses higher frequency airwaves between 2 and 10GHz. Most 5G networks are mid-band because these channels offer acceptable range and speed.

High-band or millimeter-wave (mmWave) is the fastest 5G network but has the shortest range. The range disadvantage is a substantial issue since to cover a large enough area with mmWave 5G, you need a lot of hotspots. The infrastructure demand is the reason mmWave is the least used 5G type. For instance, in the US, only Verizon offers mmWave 5G.

To sum it all up, 5G comes in three flavors. While low-band has the highest range, mmWave is the fastest. Mid-band is the perfect balance of range and speed.

The 5G standard aims to make connections faster, ubiquitous, and instantaneous. However, improving mobile networks is just one side of the story. If implemented as envisioned, 5G can bring about an Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. But for this revolution to happen, 5G has to become mainstream not only for the general public but also for corporations.

This is where non-cellular 5G comes in.

What Is Non-Cellular 5G and Can It Revolutionize the Internet?

As we've just seen, cellular 5G needs a lot of infrastructure to deliver on its promises. For a corporation, this is a huge bottleneck for two reasons.

First, if the entire corporation relies on cellular 5G, the workflow can be disturbed if the 5G hotspot they are using goes down.

To understand this, let's look at the example of an assembly line with robot workers. Because of 5G and its near-instant response time, robots on the assembly line can communicate with each other to keep track of the assembling process.

Now, if the cellular tower/hotspot goes out, all the connected entities, including the robots, will stop communicating, and the process will grind to a halt.

Second, the infrastructure needed to power the IoT revolution is extremely high. This is why most objects that can be connected will never be connected. For instance, the dream of driverless cars will remain a dream if there is not a cheaper, readily available way for cars to communicate with each other.

Non-cellular 5G addresses both of these problems. The International Telecommunication Union's Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has recognized the world's first non-cellular 5G standard. It is now part of the 5G standard. The standard is meant to make 5G accessible to every enterprise, regardless of the size.

Non-cellular 5G has the following advantages over cellular 5G:

  • First, no infrastructure is needed as devices in the network serve as nods and routers.

  • No single point of failure since all connected devices act as routers. So, if one goes down, another device takes its place.

  • Every enterprise can operate its own local 5G network for IoT, removing middlemen from the picture.

  • Free international frequency, so no need to get a license to operate your own 5G network. This significantly reduces the cost of operation.

  • Almost the same network capabilities as cellular 5G.

  • 10x cheaper than cellular 5G.

  • Environment-friendly, since non-cellular 5G has the lowest carbon footprint.

Simply put, non-cellular 5G removes the need for a mesh of dedicated base stations/hotspots for 5G to work. With non-cellular 5G, any company can create and manage a 5G network without any interference from carriers or middlemen. All of this makes non-cellular 5G the key to the IoT revolution we discussed in the previous section.

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