How Far will 5G Reach?

5G networks are being deployed around the world and one of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G is the range specially when it comes to mmWave frequencies.

In this post we use the 5G range calculator to compute 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.

BandFrequency
n21900 MHz
n5850 MHz
n661700/2100 MHz
n773.7 GHz
n26039 GHz
n26128 GHz

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.

What is the distance covered by 5G?

Let’s calculate this using the free space path loss calculator. Although it represents an ideal condition (i.e. that of free space) 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.

Assumptions

  • 0 dBi transmit and receive antenna gains
  • 3 dB cable and RF loss
  • +20 dBm transmit power

Summary

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.