5G is the newest rollout of network speed for cellular devices and Wi-Fi. With 4G being the last upgrade to network speeds worldwide in 2009, it’s been a while since we’ve experienced the increased infrastructure needed to make this happen. That’s why so many people are questioning what exactly 5G is and if it’s safe. People are uncertain about the new mobile network rollout because they aren’t clear on exactly what 5G is, and there has been some misinformation about the impact of 5G. We’re here to clear that up.

Telecommunications companies offer their services to individuals through contracts, but how is it that we can get services as we travel around the country? Or internationally? The United Nations created the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to ensure that mobile networks flow smoothly across the globe to increase access for users.

Phones: A (Very Brief) History

Mobile networks started at 1G with the creation of cellphones, and it only offered the basics like phone calls. You’ll probably remember this as the time of the Nokia phone, or the Brick. As these networks have upgraded their infrastructure we’ve seen increased download speeds as well as advances in what our cellphones are capable of doing. Many remember the switch from 3G to 4G networks, because this made our phones what they are today. We have a world’s worth of information in the palm of our hands now, so imagine the possibilities of a 5G phone.

What makes 5G so special?

In Australia, there have already been opportunities to try out 5G services. Telstra began testing 5G networks last year on the Gold Coast. Optus created a trial 5G site at the Commonwealth Games in Broadchurch by offering free WiFi to attendees. Vodafone held a live demonstration in Sydney with Nokia to show the higher speeds of 5G equipment.

5G in Australia is not only for higher speeds in merely mobile services. The goal of the Australian government is to create a mobile broadband system with smooth connections even in crowded cities and events to increase accessibility to streaming and other information to the general public. The hope is this seamless 5G coverage will spark productivity in workplaces and interests in public events to boost the economy.

The Australian government is working with several telecommunications companies like Optus, Vodafone, and Telstra to make this a reality. They promised that starting in 2020, any major 5G network provider will able to offer Australians download speeds 30 times faster than the current top-tier 4G speeds of the National Broadband Network (NBN). 5G technology will give Australians high speeds and high reliability in their service, but it will also allow for massive connectivity.

In order to take advantage of 5G sites, you may need to update your hardware— as in, some phones might not be compatible with these higher frequency networks. With the 5G rollout, a few different mobile manufacturers have confirmed that their devices will be compatible. Samsung, Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei are just a few of the companies that are ready for 5G. For more information on the changes that 5G will bring and compare service plans for Optus, Vodafone, and Telstra to find which works best for you, iSelect’s website has everything you need to know.

Is 5G safe?

Some people fear that the higher frequency waves that are required for 5G equipment and 5G speeds are unsafe for humans. 3G and 4G networks have existed for decades now without any reported major health effects. This is because 3G and 4G frequencies and human exposure are tracked and regulated internationally. These regulations also apply to TV and radio frequencies as well. They will ensure that any 5G phones or equipment have emission levels that safe for human exposure.

Misinformation about possible health risks related to 5G has spread rapidly throughout the world, but especially so in the United States. Harmful and baseless conspiracy theories connecting the rollouts to the COVID-19 pandemic have attempted to shrink public confidence in the benefits of 5G. There is no scientific evidence for these claims, or really any claims about 5G networks being unsafe.

The rollout of high-speed 5G mobile networks is yet another large leap in technological progress. With every large shift forward, there will always be apprehension and sometimes even fear, but progress is progress. Having widespread access to all the information you could ever need in less than a millisecond and saying goodbye to buffering are both possible in a world with 5G. What began as a Nokia Brick phone has now become our computer, TV, camera, gaming console and the possibilities will only continue to grow with 5G and beyond.