5G – The Network of Israel’s Future or Israel’s Future Undoing?

Discover the innovative network that has half the country rife with excitement, and the other half up in arms.

Israel, long-known as the “Startup Nation,” is always vying to be at the forefront of innovation, and is quick to adopt promising developments, as soon as they hit the market. As such, it comes as no surprise that the country is seeking to get in on the 5G revolution. 

5G, the fifth-generation technology standard for cellular networks, is positioned as a dramatic upgrade to the world’s already innovative telecommunication capabilities. Yet, although it has been making many headlines in news outlets across the globe – not all press is good press. In fact, despite 5G’s ability to drive a wide variety of solutions linked to many aspects of everyday life, from high-quality capture, streaming and calling to monitoring, detection, alerts, and more, related content shared with the masses on the news, in articles, and via social media most often avoids discussing how the technology actually works and what the market pain points it seeks to fulfill. Instead, the content takes an emotional stance, raising concerns over health risks. The result: ardent protests, in person, and online.

It seems like there is a need for a deeper understanding of what 5G is and what exactly its potential for Israeli citizens could be.

What is all the hype about? 5G in a nutshell 

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband, designed to eventually replace 4G LTE connections. 5G operates on three different spectrum bands to offer significantly faster data speeds, lower latency, greater energy and spectral efficiency, and the ability to support many more connected devices. As carriers are running out of LTE capacity, the potential for improvements in areas such as broadband, remote communications & device control, and IoT load is tremendous. Some countries and neighborhoods have already adopted 5G, and over 25 Israeli companies – big and small, are working on 5G-related developments, such as on-premises mobile cloud solutions, telecom access solutions and products, and data analytics for communications & media service providers. 

Pros and cons of 5G 

5G’s capabilities, as briefly highlighted above, serve as the technology’s major advantages: 

  • Faster transmission speed – The 5G network spectrum builds upon existing LTE networks to include the millimeter-wave band, speeding up data transmission (via downlink) to be up to 100 times faster than 4G. Services will be required to offer peak data rates of 20 gigabits per second using emBBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband) technology. 
  • Reduced latency – The latency or interval between an order being received and executed, of 5G technology, is anywhere between five to ten times less than that of 4G, dropping to a mere 1 ms. This advent makes downloading and streaming all kinds of content near-instantaneous. When taking into consideration the fact that it takes at least 10ms for people to process images they see, 5G’s capabilities are even more impressive.
  • Increased traffic capacity – 5G uses more spectrum, which enables 100 times more devices to connect to the network and communicate with each other, at any given moment. Practically speaking, this can enable smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and other innovations to communicate with one another at once, creating better, more seamless living environments.
  • Greater efficiency – The 5G network is expected to decrease energy consumption by 10%, in comparison to that of 4G LTE. And, the combination of all the benefits highlighted above results in businesses being able to more efficiently conduct their daily activities, saving them time, money, and human resources.

At the same time, certain disadvantages cannot be ignored:

  • Added costs – Implementing 5G technology requires the replacement of incompatible infrastructures, which can be costly, in terms of currency, as well as in terms of the time and human resources required. 
  • Overcrowded radiofrequency – Even though 5G will dramatically increase the speed of data transmission, it will place added stress on the spectrum, already packed with 3G and 4G cells, possibly leading to issues down the road.
  • Increased security threats – Faster data transmission and more entry points, can open the doors for more hackers to breach security and pilfer sensitive information. For 5G to preserve users’ privacy, superior security measures must be established. 

Where Israel stands on the 5G debate

According to the Israeli government’s website, the 5G Tender for the Advancement of the Deployment of 5G Technology concluded in the State of Israel in August of 2019. The government view is that the deployment of 5G infrastructure will enable Israel to remain at the forefront of technological innovation, and is ready to adopt the technology without hesitation. That being said, delays in tender publication did occur, as a direct result of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The advent of 5G brings additionally with it its fair share of concerns, particularly with respect to public health. Claims that more antennas will lead to more radiation, illnesses, and death abound. However, these claims are largely baseless. 5G uses non-ionizing radiation, which isn’t carcinogenic. And, Israel’s Ministry of Communications issued a statement explaining that because 5G technology speeds up data transfers, exposure to radiation will be less with 5G than with its predecessors. Furthermore, the more antennas are set up, the smaller each antenna’s cell will be, further decreasing any risk. In the words of Zion Hadad, founder of RunEL, “Those who are scared of radiation should be saying ‘stop using 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G and give me only 5G’. 5G radiates 10,000 times less when transferring the same data.”

Bottom line 

5G technology is viewed by some as the future of connectivity in Israel and abroad, while renowned as Israel’s near-future undoing by others. While the network does have both advantages and disadvantages for businesses and individuals, it is important that these pros and cons be weighed, and time is taken to truly understand the nature of the innovation, before jumping to conclusions.

Is your start-up looking to develop the next 5G solution? Apply to join Highroad Launchpad’s next cohort today!