5G networks are being deployed around the USA and many other parts of the world. These networks will replace the older 4G systems.
One of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G is the lower coverage range specially when it comes to mmWave frequencies.
In this post we use the 5G range calculator to find the distance that a 5G signal will reach. Let’s get into the details
What are the frequency bands for 5G?
This table shows the frequencies that Verizon uses for 5G.
Note that Verizon uses a number of bands for 5G – the lowest being 850 MHz and the highest is 39 GHz.
The benefit of the higher frequency range is that it can support a larger bandwidth. There isn’t enough available spectrum in the lower frequency ranges to support wide band operation. As a result faster throughput can be achieved at mmWave frequencies. Check our bandwidth to data rate calculator to understand this.
What is the distance covered by 5G?
Let’s calculate this using the free space path loss equations. Same as we did in the antenna range calculator. Although it represents ideal free space conditions, the range comparisons will be valid.
5G Range Calculator
At 850 MHz and a receiver sensitivity of -90 dBm, the range is 6.3 km or 3.9 miles.
By comparison, at 39 GHz, the range is only 0.14 km or 0.09 miles.
- 0 dBi transmit and receive antenna gains
- 3 dB cable and RF loss
- +20 dBm transmit power
Why is the range of 5G smaller?
The frequency range of 5G is higher than that of 4G. Using the free space path loss calculator we can see that the range decreases with an increase in frequency. As a result the distance covered by 5G is smaller than 4G.
The range or distance covered by 5G signals at mmWave frequencies is 97% lower relative to that at sub-1 GHz frequencies. At lower frequencies, the available bandwidth or throughput is much smaller.
Due to the lower signal transmission range there will have to be more mmWave 5G towers to cover the same area as a sub-6 GHz deployment.
This is the trade-off between mmWave and sub-6 GHz frequency operation of 5G networks.