Quick primer on 5G phones – lowband vs highband – in time for Black Friday

I understand 5G technology as well as the next guy. But I don’t know phones. So when I saw this article I knew I better read it before I see my family for Thanksgiving because I know someone will ask me about 5G phones before they go Christmas shopping. I thought there might be readers in the same boat so I wanted to share.

Light Reading outlines why there’s a difference between lowband and highband phones – but inherent in the description is a Readers Digest description of the differences…

If you’re shopping for a 5G phone in the US this holiday season, you’ll have to make a choice: Do you want a lowband 5G phone or a highband 5G phone?

Because you will not be able to purchase a phone that does both.

A bit of info on the difference between low and high band…

Highband 5G is typically only available in select parts of a few big cities, based on the relatively short distances such signals can propagate — but highband 5G can support superfast connections. Lowband 5G, on the other hand, can cover wide geographic areas but can’t support superfast connections.

And the why, which should seal the deal of your tech genius…

The reason US shoppers are being forced to make this choice is because handset makers like Samsung and others don’t yet have access to the kinds of chips (like Qualcomm’s X55) that can run 5G concurrently in both lowband spectrum and highband spectrum. Those chips are scheduled to arrive sometime next year.

The issue is partly due to the fact that highband spectrum (also called millimeter-wave spectrum, which typically sits about 20GHz) is relatively new to the commercial wireless industry. For the past 40 years or so, most cellular communications have been conducted in midband and lowband spectrum.

This entry was posted in Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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