Common misconceptions about 5G

Illustration of a person holding a smartphone with 5G on the screen
(Image credit: Pixabay)

5G has the power to revolutionize nearly every industry and has massive potential to completely redefine the way we live. As data becomes increasingly important around the world, 5G has the ability to adequately handle the enormous scale.

About the author

David Fraser is the Technical Sales Director covering Communications Service Providers in EMEA at Intel.

The 5G rollout continues to accelerate across the UK, with Vodafone currently covering 124 locations and EE providing 5G services in 160 cities and large towns. New research from PwC has found that productivity gains enabled by 5G will drive business, skills and service change worth billions in the coming years. The researchers believe it could see UK GDP receive a £43 billion shot in the arm by 2030. Despite the recognized benefits, there are still many misconceptions when it comes to 5G. Network providers are constantly working on improving their services within the 5G sphere and in order to support achieving a smooth transition to the 5G era, Intel has shared myths and misconceptions worth to be clarified with the larger public.

Myth: 5G is just for phones

Reality: 5G will power a wide spectrum of devices and technologies

5G is a technology that can benefit our phone and enable new business models. 5G, or 5th Generation, represents a milestone where a mobile network standard was created with more than phones in mind. 5G is a superpower that connects devices to an intelligent network. It was created to power the era of distributed intelligence where the convergence of superpowers such as AI, pervasive connectivity, cloud-to-edge infrastructure, and increasingly ubiquitous compute come together to power incredible innovation. With 5G, the processing power doesn’t all reside on the device. The computing and communications converge in this new approach to mobile networking. 5G with Edge and Cloud makes it possible to unleash even the smallest device – allowing for unlimited processing power. And, it’s flexible - processing can take place both on the device and in the network. The potential for 5G is considerable in regard to the enterprise. Increased mobile network capacity, flexibility and low latency from 5G will make new applications possible, from 5G-enabled smart factories and cities to constantly connected and intelligent medical devices.

In fact, 5G will also help connect our laptops – not just our phones. The PC market already offers laptops equipped with 5G modules. By merging high-speed wireless networking with cloud, edge and AI, even in the tiniest of devices are capable of massive computing tasks, able to benefit from reliable connectivity for mission critical services and have access to information and services in real-time and with nearly zero latency.

Myth: Deploying 5G doesn’t differ from previous generation deployment

Reality: 5G differs greatly from previous generations – and requires extension network transformation

With the massive explosion of data, our current networks need transformation to reap the full possibilities of 5G. Realities like the rise of streaming video and the hundreds or thousands of connected devices coming online every day mean we need greater capacity. It’s like trying to push too much water through a small pipe. Unlike previous wireless standards, 5G is designed to connect people and businesses unlike ever before. 4G has structural limits that constrain its evolutionary path including a maximum channel of 20 MHz, a rigid air interface frame structure and a limited numerology. This prevents 4G evolving towards the lowest possible latency and greatest possible throughput.

Breaking past these barriers requires the new techniques: 5G. Unlike 4G, it will account for information technology and operational technology on the foundation of telco stack through the convergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Implementing a cloud architecture in 5G networks is key. It brings the same server economics that transformed the data center offering reliable, low-latency communications in a flexible and scalable way for today’s needs and tomorrow’s requirements for new AI-based edge services. For example, if we think about a factory floor 5G can connect sensors, industrial AGV, robots, machines and floor workers across multiple locations, and more. Multiply the number of connection needs by the number of factories in a city, and you can start to see why 5G is essential compared to previous generations.

Myth: 5G will never truly live up to the hype

Reality: As networks continue to transform 5G will continue its acceleration path of reaching its full potential over the next several years

We are just at the start of 5G implementation. However, there has already been considerable global investment. In fact, operators are expected to invest nearly $880 billion in 5G networks by 2025. The road to full fledge 5G will not be instantaneous. Every cellular generation is deployed in multiple releases, improving the network and enabling new features gradually over years. In fact, it took approximately ten years to fully realize the potential of 4G. 5G is currently in an early phase of deployment, with service providers rolling out 5G availability. While the transition will take time, users will begin to see more and more new features on a rolling basis at an increasing rate.

Myth: 5G’s arrival will mean an uptick in security risks

Reality: The industry has responded to potential risks with a steady increase in security controls and mechanisms to better secure the high increase of data and communications

The industry recognized early on the potential for new vulnerabilities and has developed and integrated solutions to account for these potential threats. As with any paradigm shift, there exist obstacles and issues that remain to be negotiated. Today, data is cryptographically protected across layers of the software, network and storage stacks, resulting in the potential for multiple cryptographic operations being performed on every byte of data. These cryptographic operations are very compute intensive, yet they often support critical business operations where security is paramount. For example, in the creation of the 5G NR standard, the industry has “baked in” new security functionality for 5G, starting at the standards level. More than almost any other industry, the unique demands of 5G applications are dictating how the network’s security architecture will be implemented. In fact, Intel has led the industry in reducing the compute cost of cryptographic algorithms through innovative new instructions, microarchitectural improvements and novel software optimization techniques.


Admittedly, 5G is a groundbreaking concept in the tech industry supporting the continuous evolution of technology and society. Essentially, it’s one of the components sitting at the base of the global wireless infrastructure which has the main role in the activity of connected devices such as cars, smart home technology, AI and is the foundation for emerging smart cities.

The United Kingdom has seen considerable advances in 5G during the past year. A growth has been noticed in the number of locations covered by 5G in the recent months, as well as an improvement in reliability of 5G services, with multiple companies aiming to expand as quickly as possible without compromising on quality. As the rollout shows no signs of slowing down, 5G will increase a wealth of opportunities across the UK.

David Fraser is the Technical Sales Director covering Communications Service Providers in EMEA at Intel. His organization are responsible for providing direct pre-sales support for Intel products sold into and through the service provider channel. David also leads 5G and new business innovation activities for the Network and Communication Sales organization in EMEA.