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5G ( fifth generation [of mobile communications] ) is a mobile communications standard that has been gaining popularity since 2019.

5G is based on the existing “ Long Term Evolution ” (LTE) standard. Significant innovations in 5G can only be expected when frequencies above 6 GHz are used. The radio cells are expected to be expanded more closely with 5G in cities than with previous technologies. In December 2018, the standardization organization 3GPP published Release 15, the first standard that includes 5G functions. Further functions were defined with Release 16 in July 2020.


Compared to LTE-Advanced , 5G technology has the following properties:

  • Data rates up to 10 Gbit / s;
  • Use of higher frequency ranges;
  • increased frequency capacity and data throughput;
  • Real-time transmission, worldwide 100 billion mobile devices can be addressed simultaneously;
  • Latency times from a few milliseconds to less than a millisecond.


5G technology is basically geared towards three different application scenarios.

  • eMBB: Enhanced Mobile Broadband , i.e. an expanded mobile broadband connection to supply mobile devices with the highest possible data rates. Today's hybrid access technology via LTE can also be expanded to include 5G in order to improve broadband coverage for landline connections in rural regions.
  • mMTC: Massive Machine Type Communication . This area mainly concerns the “ Internet of Things ” (IoT) and should support as many connections as possible with rather low data rates and low energy consumption.
  • uRLLC: Ultra-reliable and Low Latency is intended to enable reliable connections with low latency, which are required, for example, for autonomous driving or industrial automation.

In the first phase of the 5G implementation in 2019, the eMBB area was expanded almost exclusively.

Modulation & multiplex processes

The 5th generation (5G) cellular network uses similar frequency modulations as LTE (4G). This includes in particular OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing), with the method being expanded compared to LTE and now CP-OFDM (Cyclic Prefix OFDM) is used. DFT-s-OFDM (Discrete Fourier Transform spread Orthogonal-Frequency Division Multiplexing) is sometimes used in the transmission mode of mobile devices (uplink).

The modulations used are: QPSK (quadrature phase shift keying), 16QAM, 64QAM and 256QAM ( quadrature amplitude modulation ).

So-called Carrier Aggregation (CA) is also used extensively in 5G , with up to 16 carriers being able to be combined to further increase data throughput.


In the case of 5G, very short latencies below 1 ms are often spoken of. However, it should be noted that the total latency is composed of several parts:

  • The air interface , i.e. the connection from the mobile device to the base station. With 5G, the latency of the air interface can actually be achieved under 1 ms under laboratory conditions.
  • The latency of the data processing behind the base station to the telecommunications network.
  • Latency to the Internet: If the user accesses applications and data on the Internet, there is also the latency of the servers involved (which are completely independent of the 5G standard).

The real end-to-end latencies that the US telephone provider Verizon achieved in Chicago in March 2019 are in the range of 30 ms.

Frequency ranges

The frequency spectrum in 5G is divided into two areas, called FR1 and FR2 (from Frequency Range) . FR1 essentially covers the frequencies between 600 MHz and 6 GHz. In this frequency range, both FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) and TDD (Time Division Duplexing) are used. The frequency range FR2 begins above 24 GHz and works in the millimeter wave range . Up to May 2019, frequencies up to 40 GHz were approved for 5G, but an expansion to 60 or 80 GHz is possible and planned in the future. Electromagnetic waves in the millimeter wave range are helpful for transmitting large amounts of data, but the range decreases more and more at higher frequencies. Radio waves at z. B. 28 GHz cannot penetrate simple obstacles such as walls or trees.

However, electromagnetic waves can be specifically formed by phased array antennas and directed towards a target. With 5G, this technology is used with millimeter waves in order to supply individual mobile receiving devices with high data rates if required.

The 5G specification provides for up to 256 individual antennas that can be interconnected for so-called massive MIMO .

Frequency range FR1

3GPP 38.104 (Rel 16 Sept 2019)

Table of frequency bands
tape Surname mode Downlink [MHz] Bandwidth [MHz] Uplink [MHz] geographic area
Below center Above Below center Above
n1 2100 FDD 2110 2140 2170 60 1920 1950 1980 Global
n2 1900 PSC FDD 1930 1960 1990 60 1850 1880 1910 North America
n3 1800 FDD 1805 1842.5 1880 75 1710 1747.5 1785 Global
n5 850 FDD 869 881.5 894 25th 824 836.5 849 Global
n7 2600 FDD 2620 2655 2690 70 2500 2535 2570 EMEA
n8 900 FDD 925 942.5 960 35 880 897.5 915 Global
n12 700 a FDD 729 737.5 746 17th 699 707.5 716 North America
n14 700 hp FDD 758 763 768 10 788 793 798 North America
n18 800 Lower FDD 860 867.5 875 15th 815 822.5 830 Japan
n20 800 FDD 791 806 821 30th 832 847 862 EMEA
n25 1900+ FDD 1930 1962.5 1995 65 1850 1882.5 1915 North America
n28 700 APT FDD 758 780.5 803 45 703 725.5 748 APAC , EU
n29 700 d SDL 717 722.5 728 11 North America
n30 2300 WCS FDD 2350 2355 2360 10 2305 2310 2315 North America
n34 TD 2000 TDD 2010 2017.5 2025 14th EMEA
n38 TD 2600 TDD 2570 2595 2620 50 EMEA
n39 TD 1900+ TDD 1880 1900 1920 40 China
n40 TD 2300 TDD 2300 2350 2400 100 China
n41 TD 2600+ TDD 2496 2593 2690 194 Global
n48 TD 3600 TDD 3550 3625 3700 150 Global
n50 TD 1500+ TDD 1432 1474.5 1517 85
n51 TD 1500- TDD 1427 1429.5 1432 5
n65 2100+ FDD 2110 2155 2200 90 1920 1965 2010 Global
n66 AWS-3 FDD 2110 2155 2200 90/70 1710 1745 1780 North America
n70 AWS-4 FDD 1995 2007.5 2020 25/15 1695 1702.5 1710 North America
n71 600 FDD 617 634.5 652 35 663 680.5 698 North America
n74 L-band FDD 1475 1496.5 1518 43 1427 1448.5 1470 EMEA
n75 DL 1500+ SDL 1432 1474.5 1517 85 North America
n76 DL 1500- SDL 1427 1429.5 1432 5 North America
n77 TD 3700 TDD 3300 3750 4200 900
n78 TD 3500 TDD 3300 3550 3800 500
n79 TD 4500 TDD 4400 4700 5000 600
n80 UL 1800 SUL 75 1710 1747.5 1785
n81 UL 900 SUL 35 880 897.5 915
n82 UL 800 SUL 30th 832 847 862
n83 UL 700 SUL 45 703 725.5 748
n84 UL 2100 SUL 60 1920 1950 1980
n86 UL AWS SUL 70 1710 1745 1780
n89 UL 850 SUL 25th 824 836.5 849
n90 TD 2600+ TDD 2496 2593 2690 194 Global

SDL = Supplementary Downlink

SUL = Supplementary Uplink

Frequency range FR2

3GPP 38.104 (Rel 15 Sept 2019)

tape Surname mode Downlink [MHz] Bandwidth [MHz] Uplink [MHz] geographic area
Below center Above Below center Above
n257 28 GHz TDD 26500 28000 29500 3000 Global
n258 26 GHz TDD 24250 25875 27500 3250 Global
n260 39 GHz TDD 37000 38500 40000 3000 Global
n261 28 GHz US TDD 27500 27925 28350 850 North America


power consumption

The theoretical energy consumption per transmitted bit with 5G is ideally only 1/100 of what is consumed with LTE, but since a sharp increase in data rates is expected, the overall energy consumption could increase significantly (see rebound effect ). Initial field reports indicate that mobile phones get very hot when using FR2 and require a lot of energy.

Since the range of the 5G base stations in FR2 is short, many more base stations are needed than in 4G. As a result, the energy consumption of the overall system could increase. An estimate by Huawei almost doubled its energy consumption.

According to a study for the electricity supplier E.ON , the 5G standard will increase the energy demand of data centers in Germany alone by 3.8 billion kilowatt hours by 2025. That would correspond to approx. 0.8% of the total German electricity production and would be sufficient to supply the 2.5 million inhabitants of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund for a year.

The expected increase in video-on-demand usage could also lead to an increase in energy consumption; this depends on the consumption behavior of the users.

Necessary network expansion

As already described under energy consumption, the range of the 5G base stations in FR2 is small, which is why a lot more base stations are required than with 4G. However, every second German citizen is currently against network expansion with additional base stations.


Because of the complex requirements of 5G networks, weekly software updates are required , including by third-party providers . It is not possible for software test centers to regularly and completely check these software versions and constantly monitor all security aspects. Even in strictly monitored hardware, the software could therefore without much effort backdoors for secret communication open and, for example, in this way Cyberspace - espionage allow.

A report by the government of the United Kingdom has certified that the Chinese supplier of 5G technology Huawei has only a limited level of security, so that its products cannot be used for critical infrastructures . However, these concerns were allayed at the beginning of 2019 after an audit by the GCHQ . The European Commission presented a risk assessment of 5G networks in Europe, in which it warned against attacks from "non-EU states or from state-supported organizations". The EU did not name companies or possible states that could be behind attacks.

Discussion about possible health risks

Health risks for humans and animals from 5G are viewed by critics as insufficiently researched. Controversial effects such as " electrosensitivity " are often referred to . Only under certain circumstances (e.g. in the immediate vicinity) is tissue warming due to electromagnetic radiation. However, experts do not consider this to be harmful to health. The International Commission for Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection therefore come to the conclusion that 5G technology is harmless if limit values ​​are observed .

The Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany , however, demands that the health effects be further researched before the expansion of mobile networks to 5G. A pilot project in Brussels was stopped due to concerns about whether the limit values ​​for radiation protection would be complied with with a planned 5G network . In Switzerland, the parliaments in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud have asked their governments to enact or examine a moratorium on the installation of 5G antennas on cantonal territory. A briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service comes to the conclusion that the available studies are not yet sufficient to come to a final conclusion. In scientific studies, however, there is the fundamental problem that an unexposed control group is usually missing for epidemiological studies , since almost the entire population is exposed to high-frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those caused by WLAN use.

A team led by the Italian cancer researcher Fiorella Belpoggi in Bologna reported in 2019 on a possible tumor-causing effect of high-frequency radiation in rats. The study, however, criticizes the fact that the radiation intensity used is many times higher than the permitted range. On the other hand, none of the more than 200 studies carried out within the permitted limit values ​​gave even indications of a harmful effect.

In fact, the highest radiation exposure does not normally come from the transmission masts, but from the mobile phones themselves. The more (closer) base stations there are, the less strongly the end device has to radiate to reach them. Because more masts are inevitably required for 5G, this could even reduce individual radiation exposure.

False information about Covid-19

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic , misinformation spread that there was a link between the pandemic and 5G. As a result, numerous arson attacks were carried out on 5G transmission masts in several European countries, including Great Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Cyprus. The arsonists aimed not only at 5G technology, but also at cell towers that had not yet been upgraded. Attacks on Vodafone technicians have also been reported.


The chip manufacturer Qualcomm announced the first modem with 5 Gbit / s downstream for 5G technology for the second half of 2017.

At the GSMA Mobile World Congress on February 26, 2017 , the Chinese telecommunications supplier ZTE presented the world's first smartphone that supports the Pre5G Giga + MBB standard for data transmission of up to 1 Gbit / s.

In the smartphone sector, the computer and smartphone manufacturer Lenovo announced that it is aiming for a leading role in the introduction of the new 5G standard.

Research is already being carried out on the successor standard 6G .

5G introduction and expansion in various countries

On April 3, 2019, South Korea became the world's first country to put a nationwide 5G network into operation.

Australia and New Zealand

The New Zealand intelligence service Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has prohibited the telecommunications provider Spark New Zealand from using equipment from the Chinese network group Huawei to set up the new 5G wireless standard . The GCSB sees a significant network security risk with the possibility of espionage. Australia already banned Huawei from using it in the summer of 2018.


Handover of the award certificates after the German 5G auction on June 13, 2019 in Mainz at the Federal Network Agency

In 2019, the licenses were auctioned in the Federal Republic of Germany .

Vodafone location with 5G antenna (red box)

In Germany, the Federal Network Agency is responsible for assigning the mobile radio frequencies. The auction of the frequencies in the 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz to 3.7 GHz ranges at the Federal Network Agency's location in Mainz began on March 19, 2019. The companies Drillisch Netz AG ( 1 & 1 Drillisch ), Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG (O 2 ), Telekom Deutschland GmbH and Vodafone GmbH were admitted to the auction . The total of the highest bids exceeded the mark of six billion euros on May 24, 2019.

The award of frequencies for 5G mobile communications in 2019 is more expensive than the last two frequency auctions in Germany. In 2010, the mobile phone companies paid EUR 4.4 billion for the frequencies. In 2015 it was around five billion euros. The allocation of UMTS frequencies in 2000 was, however, much more expensive. At that time, the companies had paid 50.8 billion euros.

In November 2018, the authority set the terms and conditions for the frequency auction in the 3.6 GHz band. These stipulate that the frequencies are awarded in an auction and that the award is linked to coverage requirements. According to this, motorways and the most important federal highways are to be supplied with a data speed of 100 megabits per second by the end of 2022 and all other federal highways by the end of 2024. In addition, every network operator successful at the auction must expand 1,000 5G base stations. Vodafone put the first transmission mast into operation at the beginning of November 2018 on a 400,000 square meter test site near Aldenhoven near Aachen.

The Federal Network Agency has also planned that 100 MHz in the frequency range from 3.7 to 3.8 GHz will be reserved for local applications, especially in the area of Industry 4.0 . These frequencies will not be auctioned off, but have been requested for local use by the respective owner or user of the property since December 2019 for a fee.

The German Telekom announced plans to provide by 2025 at least 99 percent of the population and 90 percent of the area of Germany with 5G. To this end, it plans to build more than 2,000 new cell phone sites every year. The two other mobile operators in Germany, Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland , have not yet made any specific announcements about the expansion of 5G in Germany. The founder of United Internet , Ralph Dommermuth , announced that if the 5G auction is successful, in which the subsidiary Drillisch Netz AG competes, it will set up its own 5G network in competition with Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica in Germany.

On July 17, 2019, Vodafone was the first provider in Germany to launch a commercial 5G network that is open to private customers. The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and Samsung S10 5G are offered as smartphones. There is also an internet router with the GigaCube 5G. As of mid-September 2019, some of Telekom's more expensive term contracts for 5G had already been activated. Tests in Berlin, Darmstadt and Bonn resulted in download speeds of up to 900 Mbps. Telekom announced the start of its 5G network in September 2019 with 120 antennas in the cities of Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Bonn and Darmstadt.

At the beginning of 2020, the Federal Network Agency published a draft for the future framework for 5G applications in the 26 GHz band, which could be commented on by mid-February 2020. In April 2020, the 37 comments received on the draft were published on the Federal Network Agency's website.


At the end of March 2019, the first commercial 5G network in Austria went live in the first five municipalities. Politically, the new technology addressed rural areas in particular. In the municipality of Hohenau an der March , the first 200 routers were issued by Magenta Telekom . On January 25, 2020 A1 Telekom Austria plans to start operations with 350 transmitter locations in 129 municipalities.

Magenta has announced that 600 more 5G locations will be operational in July 2020 and that almost 40% of all households will be supplied by the end of the year.


In the Swiss mobile communications market , the Ordinance on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation (NISV) only permits the operation of 5G antennas with a short range. On March 5, 2018, after a negative decision made 15 months earlier, the Council of States again opposed the increase in the existing limit values. In February 2019 it became known that the Federal Office for the Environment was preparing a revision of the ordinance, on which the Federal Council and Parliament had to decide. On April 17, the Federal Council adjusted the NISV in line with the telecommunications industry. According to OOKLA 5G MAP, Switzerland has the largest 5G network in the world as of May 2019. The mobile phone providers Swisscom (with Ericsson ) and Sunrise (with Huawei ) are expanding their 5G infrastructure. Both want to provide a nationwide 5G network from 2020. Also Salt (with Nokia ) 5G will operate even of 2019.

On October 15, 2019, the popular initiative “For health-compatible and energy-saving mobile communications” was published in the Federal Gazette, according to which 5G field strengths are to be significantly restricted. This began the one and a half year collection period for signatures; if 100,000 voters sign, a referendum will be held to determine whether this proposed constitutional amendment should be adopted.

On October 15, 2019, a petition was submitted to the Federal Office for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication DETEC calling for a moratorium on the development of 5G technology. In total, the private person Notburga Klett collected almost 40,000 signatures. According to Klett, with the introduction of 5G, the federal government is violating its duty to protect health and the environment. On February 27, 2020, the canton of Geneva passed a three-year moratorium on the 4G + and 5G mobile communications generations. The Swiss Working Group for Mountain Regions (SAB) is calling for a rapid expansion to 5G.


Spain will be one of the first European countries to start operating a 5G network in 15 cities. This was announced by Vodafone President Antonio Coimbra in early June 2019 . According to tests, around 50% of the population in these cities, mostly in northern Spain, are already supplied with the commercial 5G network. There should be complete coverage for at least these cities by 2021. In 2025, the 5G network should finally be available throughout Spain.

South Korea

On April 3, 2019, South Korea became the world's first country to put a nationwide 5G network into operation. Commissioning took place two days earlier than planned, giving South Korea two hours ahead of the US wireless operator Verizon and its introduction of 5G in the cities of Chicago and Minneapolis . In August 2019, the network operator SK Telecom announced that it was the first mobile phone company in the world to have more than a million customers with 5G tariffs. According to its own information, the company has a total of 28 million customers in South Korea.

United States of America

In the USA , the political discussion about 5G in 2019 will be heavily influenced by the sanctions imposed by President Trump against the Chinese company Huawei , which has so far been a global leader in the development and market launch of 5G technology. In addition, President Trump and representatives of the industry advocate different concepts for the network construction and use of 5G than some prominent members of the Republican Party : While the former have so far tended to leave this to large companies such as AT&T and Verizon , Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove are in favor of the use smaller companies, then also with the use of free capacities of state military technology.

European Union

Through the Horizon 2020 program , the European Commission is spending EUR 700 million in tax money on research and innovation funding in connection with 5G.

Web links

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