We want to simplify and help you understand what 5G is and how you can benefit from it.
Also, note we are also here to help you select the perfect tractor for your homestead when the time comes.
Let’s get started.
What is “G” Technology?
In the beginning, there was no “G” (Generation) at all.
There was only cellular communication.
In 1991, providers went from analog to digital cellular phones. They started the whole “G” naming experience with 2G.
Since then they have moved up the G numbering system and added subtitles to the “G” --- for example, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution).
Each “G” added new features. Features like SMS (Short Message Service) --- the original text messaging service from the 1980s. Text messages on SMS were limited to 160 characters. SMS then expanded to become MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). This has allowed us to transmit photographs, video, audio files, and exchange contact details.
Each increase in “G” offered a corresponding increase in information download and upload speed, as well as capability. Providers zoomed along to 4G.
So the question is --- “How did each successive “G” offer more speed and capability?”
Signal Modulation and Processing
To simplify it --- just remember that all these advances leading to 5G come down to the way a cell phone signal is modulated and processed.
The easiest way to explain this is by using the old A.M. (Amplitude Modulation) radio as an example.
A.M. radio was a breakthrough in its day even though there was a good amount of background noise, whistles, and crackles you could hear in the background. The signal also used to go dead if you were traveling in a car if you happened to hit a “dead signal” zone. In fact, A.M. radio would even pick up electronic interference from a passing car, truck, or even another radio station in the same frequency band. This is referred to as “second channel” interference.
The advantage of A.M. radio was that it operated in the lower end of the radio band, between 500KHz to 1600KHz (back then this was called “Cycles” or “Kilo Cycles”).
This low-level frequency meant that the signal traveled a long way, and consequently we could listen to radio stations outside our local city or even outside our country.
Next, came F.M. (Frequency Modulation) radio. F.M. radio had far fewer background issues. You also had far less chance of losing your radio signal. The reason for this was simple --- F.M. radio operates in the range of 88 MegaHertz (MHz) to 108MHz.
Let’s avoid getting too technical here and just note that the F.M. advantage was a massive improvement in the quality of the received signal. It also eliminated “second channel” interference. The one drawback was that you could no longer hear a too-distant radio station.
5G Radio Modulation
Cellular phone “G” increases are conceptually like the change from A.M. to F.M. in the radio world. 3G and 4G are similarly just different types of modulation --- just like A.M. and F.M. The change from 4G to 5G is another change in the way the cellular signal is processed --- allowing faster information upload and download speeds. Some say the speed increase ranges from 10-100 times faster. The biggest change that a 5G user will notice is how fast their device will communicate with another device.
5G Rural Frequency
Much of the rural 5G challenges, controversy, and concerns revolve around the frequency.
As of this writing, 5G is primarily operating at a frequency between 2 gigahertz (GHz) and 6GHZ. (One gigaHertz is equal to 1,000 megahertz.) At these frequencies, a cellular phone signal would not travel far nor penetrate buildings.
This alone creates a vast number of complications for customers in urban and rural locations. Urban buildings would not get a cellular signal and rural areas would be hard to reach.
There are discussions about having 5G deployed at the sub 6GHz level. Furthermore, there is not any logical reason why 5G could not be deployed at even lower frequencies, including the current 4G spectrum of 800 MHz to 2100 MHz or lower.
The world seems to be rapidly moving to 5G as the new standard. So the question is “Why would operators want to buy this spectrum if they were not going to use it in a 5G environment?”
It seems likely that 600MHz will be on the list of the new 5G frequencies to be used, and indeed, in the USA, Sprint T-Mobile is already claiming a 600MHz 5G America wide rollout. They already claim to be able to reach 200,000,000 people with 5G. This low spectrum comes with a detrimental effect on the information upload and download speed vs. the higher 5G frequency bands. The 600MHz 5G band will be “5G Lite” and not the full version of 5G using the higher frequency spectrum.
Cellular Technology Geographical Pricing Disparity
Let’s discuss how cellular pricing disparities are determined using Canada and the United States of America (USA) as our example.
Have you ever wondered why Canadian cellular phone bills are so high compared to the USA?
There is a metric called the Price Per Megahertz Population --- abbreviated to MHz-pop. It refers to one megahertz of bandwidth passing one person in the coverage area (total population covered) in the spectrum license. On average, in the USA, the cell phone network providers paid $0.93 per MHz-pop. Using the same metrics, Canadian cell phone network providers paid on average $1.89 MHz-pop, or roughly twice the price.
That investment must be recovered, which is why Canadian cell phone bills are proportionately more expensive than cellular phone bills in the USA.
· Higher Frequency = Faster speeds but shorter distances.
· Lower Frequency = Slower speeds but longer distances.
Since the frequency used by a 5G cellular phone dictates the speed and distance --- it’s important for a service provider to use a part of the spectrum that includes frequencies that benefit the job at hand.
Here are examples of 5G usage by provider…
Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband network uses millimeter waves --- specifically 28GHz and 39GHz.
The Verizon website claims to deliver the full potential of 5G. A company must possess massive spectrum holdings, particularly in the millimeter-wave bands. They also must have end-to-end deep fiber resources, as well as the ability to deploy large numbers of small cells.
Verizon is the only company that brings all three pieces together.
T-Mobile uses a low-band spectrum (600 MHz) and mid-band spectrum.
Their website claims that T-Mobile has the first, largest, and only nationwide 5G network, covering more people and places than anyone else.
Sprint, owned by T Mobile, claims to have more spectrum than any other carrier in the US, with three spectrum bands: 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5 GHz.
AT&T’s deployment strategy is to use the millimeter wave spectrum for dense areas and mid and low-spectrum waves for rural and suburban locations.
Their website claims to have invested more in the U.S. than any other public company. It also says their wireless network now covers more than 99% of Americans and their fiber network is one of the nation’s largest --- connecting more IoT devices than any other provider in North America.
Will 5G Work in Rural Environments?
The answer is --- “sometimes.”
5G is not a magic pill for solving rural cell phone coverage problems.
If you currently do not have cellular signal coverage in your local environment, 5G will not be the automatic solution. To take advantage of the many opportunities that 5G presents, your local area must have a good quality cell phone signal. If you cannot get a cellular phone signal using 4G, or even 3G, --- then 5G is out of the question.
5G will help with applications based on the Internet of Things (IoT) --- such as monitoring livestock characteristics like general animal health and milk yield. It will also help with crop management including pesticide and fertilizer coverage, harvesting, monitoring field conditions such as soil temperature, or to show when a crop needs watering.
The monitoring techniques available in real-time through the 5G network will assist in improving crop yields and help with the generation of higher quality products. Self-guiding tractors will become a standard on 5G connected farms and the driver will simply sit there to ensure everything is working as it should. They will input specific criteria such as type of fertilizer for a particular crop, or start the tractor doing a particular job, at a specified location.
Rural 5G Options
If you have a quality 4G signal, then stick with it.
For those of you with a poor cellular phone signal or no signal at all --- you have a 5G option.
First… contact your local cellular service provider and see if they are willing to install the necessary tower equipment. If they will not work with you --- you could buy a commercial quality F.C.C. or Industry Canada certified and approved cell phone booster.
Current Cellular Service
If it’s been a long time since you updated your cellular phone plan --- you can often get a better deal by just checking with your provider and comparing your plan against an updated plan or going to a new provider.
Remember… this new technology comes with another important question --- “Will your existing 4G phone work with 5G technology?
The short answer is “No.”
You will need to buy a 5G compatible phone.
We’ll cover that in a future article.
Hopefully, this information helped you understand 5G a whole lot better!
If you need any further help or have any questions about rural 5G technology, tractors, or anything else, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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