The range of 5G radio varies based on several factors, primarily dictated by the frequency bands employed and the deployment strategy. Broadly, 5G operates in three key frequency bands: low-band (sub-1 GHz), mid-band (1-6 GHz), and high-band or millimeter-wave (above 24 GHz).
In the low-band spectrum, 5G exhibits extended coverage with a range spanning several kilometers. While this allows for broader coverage, the trade-off comes in the form of comparatively lower data speeds when compared to higher frequencies. Consequently, low-band 5G is often strategically deployed in rural and suburban areas to maximize coverage.
Moving to the mid-band spectrum, 5G strikes a balance between coverage and data speeds. The range in this band is moderate, typically covering distances ranging from a few hundred meters to a couple of kilometers. This makes mid-band 5G well-suited for deployment in urban and suburban settings, where a balance between coverage and speed is crucial.
On the other end of the spectrum, high-band 5G, operating in millimeter-wave frequencies, delivers exceptionally high data speeds but at the cost of reduced range. In this frequency band, the range is limited to a few hundred meters, and signals can be easily obstructed by buildings and other obstacles. Consequently, high-band 5G finds application in densely populated urban areas where the focus is on enhancing data capacity rather than coverage.
It’s important to note that the effective range of 5G radio signals is also influenced by environmental conditions, interference, and the presence of obstacles. Moreover, the deployment practices and the infrastructure of the network play a pivotal role in determining the practical range of 5G in any specific location.