Like other wireless communication systems, 5G uses radio frequencies to carry information through the air.
However, what separates 5G technical fundamentals from previous wireless systems is that 5G uses higher radio frequencies that are less cluttered. This allows for it to carry more information at a much faster rate.
These higher bands are called millimeter waves (mmwaves). They were previously unused but have been opened up for licensing by regulators for 5G communications.
The FCC decided to make the millimeter wave spectrum available because the lower spectrums were more or less saturated, and previously, the mmwaves spectrum was untouched by the public because the equipment to use the higher bands was largely inaccessible and expensive.
The innovative equipment was a key to allowing 5G technology to advance to where it is today. The new equipment was necessary in order to accommodate mmwaves, which are faster at carrying information but have penetration issues over large distances such as being blocked by trees and buildings. Rain has also been an issue.
Fortunately, there are now multiple input and output antennas to boost the 5G mmwave signals and capacity across the 5G wireless network.
Another important factor that has made 5G technology possible is the use of smaller transmitter dishes placed on buildings and street furniture. This technology is very different from the single standalone masts of the past.
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