Today’s question comes from Natalia in Toronto. 

Could 5G wireless impact the value of my property, and if so how?

That’s a great question. This is a large topic with several elements to it. In fact, so much so that we’re going to answer it over two days. 

On today’s show we are talking about the wireless technology itself and how it works. On tomorrow’s show we will address the specific impacts that the infrastructure related to the wireless technology can have on your land. 

There is no question that having internet service available at your property definitely affects your property value. It’s right up there with water and electricity. Very few people would buy a property without electricity. The cost to add it is high and very few people want to install and maintain their own diesel generator. High speed internet service ranks high on buyers list of requirements. 

Traditionally, high speed internet service has relied upon wired service to your home and more recently, optical fibre. Fiberoptics can deliver extremely high bandwidth and experiences very low signal degradation. It’s not subject to interference and you can easily have a fibre cable of 60 miles or 100km without needing a repeater. 

Today mobile devices have become extremely powerful. I’m able to do most things from a mobile device that used to require a desktop computer. 5G wireless technology offers the promise of wireless performance that is similar to today’s wired solutions. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to worry about that and you could roam freely and get great service everywhere you go.

How can one radio technology be faster than another? The secret lies in the encoding and in eliminating noise. 

The first idea that I’d like to introduce is the coding scheme. Most people know that computers use binary math to make decisions. The individual transistors inside a microprocessor are only capable of counting from zero to one, and back to zero. 

But in the world of wireless where we have limited spectrum available, the key is to pack more info into the same airspace. We as humans rely mostly on more complex coding schemes. Each character on a written page represents one of 10 numbers or one of 26 letters, plus all the different punctuation symbols and a space to separate words from each other. But not only that, we have upper case and lower case characters which are distinct. Add all that together and we have about 100 times more information in a single character than a computer does. 

Each new generation of wireless technology has introduced a more complex coding scheme in order to pack more information into the same airspace.  

But the airspace is a noisy environment. The ability to have so many simultaneous conversations is a function of the signal to noise ratio. This is the difference between two people having a conversation in a quiet room and a crowded cocktail party. In order to have a meaningful conversation at a cocktail party, people need to stand close together and speak very loudly. You can’t hold an effective conversation across the room. There is too much interference from the other conversations for you to be understood. In technical terms, we call that the signal to noise ratio. 

In order to achieve the benchmark performance, these cellular towers in 5G will need to be spaced much closer together than today’s 3G and 4G towers. The number of cell towers will need to approximately double compared with today. In fact you will need a cell tower every 800 to 1000 feet. 

Areas which have lower population density will not be worth the investment by the carrier.  In the world of 5G, you can expect much more sporadic coverage than we have today with 4G