What is 5G?

Telecoms are using a mixed bag of frequencies and calling it “5G.”

To simplify things, let’s borrow the ice cream analogy used by Brian X. Chen in his January, 2020 New York Times article on 5G. 

Rocky Road

This is the 5G flavour that is generating all the hype, the one that promises us autonomous cars, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Rocky Road uses high frequency millimetre waves in the 25,000 to 39,000 MHz band, which are able to transmit data at theoretical maximum speeds of 10,000 Mbps.That is 100 times faster than the 4G cellular networks we currently have.

These millimetre waves must be “beam formed” and only transmit when called upon by a 5G-enabled device. This beam is narrow, and does not sweep a neighbourhood with full force. It transmits on demand and only to the house where the 5G-enabled device is located.

Rocky Road sounds promising for those who want an Internet of Things, and don’t mind being irradiated in the process. But there is a hitch.

Millimetre wave signals don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls, trees and windows – even rain. In real-life trials, Rocky Road only seems to work when you are right beside a transmitter. Which might cause something to melt.

To sum it up, because of its limitations, Rocky Road will unlikely be available for general consumption.


This is the variety of 5G that uses low and mid band frequencies and some beam forming. Although telecoms say Vanilla 5G is 20-50% faster than the best 4G speed now available, other than less lag time (called latency). in real life trials users are barely noticing a difference between Vanilla and current 4G.

In Canada, the low-band frequency being used for 5G is in the 600 to 700 MHz range. The mid-band frequency dedicated to 5G is in the 2500 to 3700 MHz band.


This form of 5G uses low-band frequencies in the 600 to 700 MHz range only, with no beam-forming. Timothy Schoechle, author of Reinventing Wires refers to it as “4G labelled as 5G for marketing purposes.” Calling it ice cream would be false advertising.

The danger with this variety, however, is that unlike Vanilla and Rocky Road, which work on demand and send signals directly to 5G-enabled devices, Dairy-Free, like 4G LTE, is always on. This means if a microcell transmitting Dairy-Free is placed by your home, you will be constantly bathed in high levels of radiofrequency radiation. . 

The Flavour Big Telecom Doesn’t Want us to Know About

Recent developments in fiber optics technology, have sent data at speeds of 200,000 Mbps, 20 times faster than the speeds promised by high frequency Rocky Road 5G. And without its serious biological effects. We all know the benefits of eating a high fiber diet. Hands down, Fiber Wired to the Premises is by far the healthiest and most delicious option.

Learn more about the technical aspects of 5G in the “Tech Talk” section on page 3 of the Primer found HERE.