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50 PCB007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2019 onds of detecting a lack of use. 5G networks will be able to communicate with devices moving at very high speeds reportedly up to over 300 mph between the base station and the moving device. 5G will be able to support many more devices than 4G in the same area without overload. It is reported that 5G will be able to support up to one million devices per square kilome- ter. You might think that there would never be that many people on their cellphone in a sin- gle square kilometer, but we are not just talk- ing cellphones when talking 5G; we are talking about the myriad of devices of all types—such as transportation, entertainment, military, medical, etc.—that will be communicating with each other in the next quarter of a cen- tury. For those of you who were around at the time, think back to the devices that communi- cated with each other back in the 70s, look at where we have come, and then imagine what is to come. Possible Costs and Risks Nothing is free, however, and there are some significant costs and possible risks associated with the introduction of 5G. First, there is a need to invest many millions of dollars in phys- ical infrastructure. Many of the advances en- abled by 5G are possible due to the much high- er frequencies used. These higher frequencies mean a much shorter range per transmission point as well as less ability for the high-fre- quency signal to penetrate walls and windows with that ability in decline as the distance from the transmission point (the call tower) increas- es. This will require many more cell towers in closer proximity to each other and the commu- nicating device; even tens of thousands more cell towers and signal transmission and recep- tion points will be needed. You will see cell sites in places you would never have dreamed that they would be. In fact, this expansion has already start- ed. Some existing cell towers are already being converted to 5G or are being converted to 5G+4G combo towers. If you are in an area where your usually reliable signal is now experiencing dropouts or lost connections, it just might be because your favorite/most-used cell tower is in the process of being converted (a cost some of us seem to be already inadver- tently paying). There is also the possibility of health issues caused by high- er exposure to RF ra- diation; this is a con- troversial topic, with significantly differing opinions. Where I live in Southern Califor- nia, and where new cell sites are obvious- ly under construction, this specific discus- sion is taking place on social media, in local web-based dis- cussion groups, and at local meetings with strong feelings on both sides. Let me quote a recent article on 5G [1] : Cell towers have increasingly become part of the agricultural landscape. This one is housing a bird's nest.

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