5G: why should you care at sea?

5G is used as a general term, it even includes satellite but for the mere mortal cellular users we are there are actually (only) three types of 5G signal that uses different frequencies: low-band, sub 6, and millimetre (mmWave).

Low-band 5G uses frequencies below 1Ghz and some providers are currently repurposing their 3G frequency ranges to use with 5G. They will most likely convert 3G to 4G and 5G as 3G traffic declines.

Low-band 5G has a much wider range than either mmWave or sub 6 5G, and is far more effective indoors. The trade-off, however, is speed. Based on what we’ve seen in the US, low-band 5G offers performance marginally faster than 4G. This means speeds of between 50 and 250Mbps, depending on conditions.

Regional 5g coverage

Low-band 5G can handle more simultaneous connections than a 4G network on the same spectrum and achieves lower latency as well as efficiency improvements on the cellular provider’s side.

Sub 6 mid-band 5G runs on frequencies similar to current 4G, albeit on the higher end of the spectrum. Sub 6 5G isn’t as fast as mmWave but has seen speeds exceeding 1Gbps and there is more coverage per tower. Sub 6 5G can work indoors, but may still have trouble passing through walls.

mmWave 5G uses extremely high frequencies starting from 26GHz potentially reaching speeds over 4Gbps, it has the shortest range and can have issues penetrating buildings.

5G Cell Types

A 5G network typically uses two kinds of cells, known as the small cell and the macro cell.

A macro cell is part of the radio access network (RAN) and provides the much-important radio coverage for the cellular network. Usually, macro cell antennas are mounted on towers and/or masts at the cellular base stations. These can be placed at several locations as rooftops, towers, mountains, …

To function properly it is important that the antennas should be at a location higher than surrounding buildings or on high terrain. This is necessary to prevent any obstruction of the transmitted signal. If not the network quality will be seriously diminished.

Advantage of Macro Cells

Macro cells used in the 5G networks can effectively provide cellular network coverage to a wider area than the previous generation of 4G LTE service. In fact, the usage of macro cells allows 5G networks to provide services that can span a relatively large town.

This is particularly useful when it comes to 5G’s capability to connect many devices across a wide area. It increases the speed of the service by reducing latency or response time in the system. Thus providing a network that is far better than the previous 4G LTE connections.

Should you already invest in 5G at Sea ?

If you are aiming at maintinaing 5G connectivity as far from the available cellular towers as possible and benefit from lower latency then we would recommend already investing in 5G technology, it will future proof your installation but could (at time of writing) come with a higher price tag as 5G modules are still very expensive compared to 4G LTE modules.

At Satmarin Exoflux we offer a tailor made range of 4G LTE and 5G maritime units capable of outperforming any traditional Off the shelf solution. Contact us if you need to take it that bit further

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