The hottest thing in mobile networks right now is 5G. There is no disputing that. While those of us at Blazing Hog are working extremely hard to cover rural America with 4G rural internet, cities are being transformed into 5G environments. This conundrum presents an obvious question: will 5G ever make it to wireless rural internet service?
It would be unwise to speculate that it will never happen. ‘Never’ is a strong word. But knowing what we know about 5G and how it works, it seems likely that any successful effort to make it a viable technology for rural internet is still many, many years off. There are still numerous kinks to work out.
5G Uses Higher Frequencies
The radio spectrum on which mobile networks function is divided into bands. Higher bands equal higher frequencies. Therein lies the significant difference between 4G LTE and 5G. A 5G mobile network operates on a much higher frequency. This offers multiple advantages:
- Higher frequencies are not so crowded
- They can transmit data faster
- They are more scalable
- They are highly directional.
The last quality – being highly directional – is both 5G’s biggest strength and weakness. How can that be so? Being highly directional is a strength in the sense that resources are not wasted beaming signals to locales where they aren’t needed. Saving resources leaves a lot more room for more users and more data where the signals are needed.
It is a weakness in the sense that highly directional frequencies require straight line contact between antennas and transmitters. The signals are easily interrupted by terrain, buildings, and even the weather. This is why 5G is nowhere near being ready as a technology for wireless rural internet.
4G LTE Works Extremely Well
Blazing Hog’s 4G rural internet is capable of providing high speed internet in rural locations around America for one simple reason: 4G LTE technology works extremely well. It is certainly better than DSL and dial-up, and we would argue that it is even better than satellite internet.
On the other hand, 5G isn’t suitable for rural environments. At least not yet. It works just fine in the cities where antennas and transmitters can be installed within close proximity to one another. Heck, you can outfit an entire city with antennas on every corner. Furthermore, mobile networks in cities are less prone to weather interference because you are working with so many more antennas.
To get the equivalent service in a rural area, you would need to install antennas and transmitters on trees or manmade posts. You would need extra antennas to get over hills and through valleys. The point is that the antenna density required to make 5G work isn’t practical in rural settings. Until that hurdle is overcome, 4G will be the best choice for high-speed rural internet.
5G May Actually Help 4G
Before you stress over 5G’s limitations in rural environments, consider this: more mobile networks moving to 5G could free up bandwidth for 4G networks. It could ultimately mean a boost in 4G speeds as well as a reduction in latency. In other words, moving mobile networks into the 5G spectrum will make 4G less crowded.
Mobile networks continue to get better. They continue getting faster, more robust, and more reliable. 5G is the latest iteration, and it promises to revolutionize how we use the radio spectrum. But for now, it is not a suitable technology for rural internet. Your best bet for high-speed internet in your rural location is 4G LTE. Blazing Hog is here to help you make that happen.