Low to High 5G Bands Explained

5G Bands

5G New Radio (5G NR) offers faster speeds, lower latency, higher reliability, and increased capacity compared to 4G LTE radios. 5G also supports a broader frequency spectrum than its predecessor. Although three 5G bands (low-band, mid-band, and high-band) are in the standard, they are also referred to as 5G sub-6Ghz and 5G Millimeter waves. These bands impact the coverage, capacity, and speed of the network. Understanding the different types of bands and their applications is crucial for tapping the full potential of 5G technology.

Low-Band 5G Bands

Low bands utilize the sub-1GHz, which covers a wider distance. It can pass through obstacles and is often used in low-density rural settings and public safety (e.g., b14 or n14 in the USA). 5G offers more comprehensive coverage than GSM 2G or 3G, as it has spectral efficiency over the previous technologies.

The Characteristics of Low-Band 5G

Low-band has the following characteristics:
Low-band has the following characteristics:
Low-band 5G often uses a non-standalone (NSA) architecture to co-locate with the 4G network.
It provides excellent coverage and can cover large areas.

It offers higher spectral efficiency compared to 4G LTE networks.

Low-band 5G data speed is typically around 50-100 Mbps.
Low-band 5G typically uses a 5, 10, 20, or 40 MHz channel bandwidth. Wider channel bandwidth is limited in this spectrum.
Low-band slightly reduces latency compared to 4G (LTE) networks.
Low-band 5G is less expensive to deploy because it requires fewer cell sites and less infrastructure to cover a larger area.

Benefits of Low-Band 5G

Low band 5G has several benefits. Its longer wavelengths allow signals to travel farther and penetrate obstacles more effectively. It is cheaper to provide services in rural areas with low population density.

Limitations of Low-Band 5G

Low band 5G may encounter interference from other cellular networks since it uses frequency ranges below 1GHz. Moreover, low bands might not be appropriate for applications requiring extremely rapid data rates. For 8K video streaming or large-scale data transfers, average download rates of 50–100 Mbps are inadequate. In addition, low band 5G implementation may encounter difficulties in densely populated urban areas. Longer wavelengths of low band 5G transmissions make them more vulnerable to attenuation and reflection. It may result in weaker signals and slower internet speeds.

Applications of Low-Band 5G

Some of the critical applications of low-band 5G include:
It can provide affordable wireless connectivity to rural areas with broader coverage and better penetration of obstacles like trees, buildings, and terrain.
It can enable remote healthcare services, i.e., telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and medical imaging.
Low bands offer more reliable wireless connectivity to emergency services in disaster-prone areas or remote locations than traditional infrastructures.
Low-band can support precision agriculture applications, including remote monitoring, smart irrigation, and crop management.

Mid-Band 5G Bands

The mid-band spectrum is widely considered the “Goldilocks” band for 5G. It is because it gives a balance between coverage area and data rate. Moreover, the optimal combination of signal strength and bandwidth makes these 5g bands suitable for a wide range of applications in urban and suburban areas. According to the Mobile Economy 2023 report by GSMA Intelligence, mid-band 5G will account for over 60% of global 5G connections by 2026.

The Characteristics of Mid-Band 5G

Mid-band has the following characteristics:
It operates on a frequency range between 2GHz and 6GHz.
Mid-band 5G can use standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) architectures.
The signals in mid bands can travel farther than high-band 5G but not as far as low-band 5G.
It offers high spectral efficiency compared to 4G LTE networks.
The data speed is typically 100-400 Mbps, while the peak can reach up to 2 Gbps.
The mid bands typically use a channel bandwidth of 100MHz.
Mid-band 5G has a latency of around 10 milliseconds or less.
It requires more cell sites and infrastructure compared to low-band 5G. So, the deployment costs get higher.

Benefits of Mid-Band 5G

Mid bands deliver faster speeds and lower latency, making them ideal for applications that require real-time responsiveness. They support greater capacity. So, it’s convenient for more devices to connect simultaneously without experiencing congestion in a mid-band structure. Plus, mid bands are cost-effective compared to high bands because they can use existing 4G structures. Moreover, mid-band 5G is more energy-efficient and can be utilized for IoT sensors.

Limitations of Mid-Band 5G

The shorter wavelengths of mid-bands make providing coverage in rural and remote areas challenging. Mid-band 5G operates in frequencies already used for satellite communications or radar systems. It may cause interference and disrupt performance. In addition, the network structures of the mid-band require new cell sites, antennas, and backhaul connections. It can be costly. Finally, mid-band 5G uses a line-of-sight connection between the user’s device and the cell site. So, obstacles, i.e., buildings and trees, can block or weaken the signal and ultimately lessen the quality and speed of the connection.

Applications of Mid-Band 5G

Mid-band 5G has a wide range of potential applications, including:
The fast speed and low latency of mid-bands for mobile devices enable high-definition video streaming, virtual and augmented reality, and cloud gaming.
It can work in connected vehicles and intelligent transportation systems by enabling real-time traffic management and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
They support large-scale IoT deployments with low latency, high reliability, and massive connectivity. This can be utilized in smart cities, smart homes, and industrial automation.
Mid bands can support remote healthcare applications. Thus patients will get remote medical consultations, health monitoring, and treatment.
Mid-band 5G is an alternative to traditional fixed-line broadband. So, high-speed internet access to homes and businesses is possible without physical cables or wires.
Mid-band 5G can assist in the digitization and automation of manufacturing processes. As a result, new levels of efficiency, productivity, and flexibility are possible.

High-Band 5G Bands

High-band 5G is also known as millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G. It operates on frequencies above 24GHz. These frequencies offer ultra-fast speeds, with the potential for speeds up to 10Gbps. However, high band 5G has a limited coverage area and is easily obstructed by obstacles such as buildings and trees.

The Characteristics of High-Band 5G

High-band 5G has the following characteristics:
High bands operate in the 24-47 GHz frequency range, while some reach up to 100 GHz.
It uses Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and beam-forming antennas.
They cover a few hundred meters from a cell site.
It provides the highest spectral efficiency compared to other bands.
The average data speed is 1.6 Gbps, while the peak can reach up to 20 Gbps.
The high bands provide up to 2 GHz of available bandwidth.
High-band 5G has a latency of around 1 millisecond.
High-band 5G is more susceptible to obstacle interference compared to other bands. However, it is less susceptible to interferences caused by other devices.
High-band 5G is more susceptible to obstacle interference compared to other bands. However, it is less susceptible to interferences caused by other devices.

Benefits of High-Band 5G

The broader bandwidth in high bands supports much higher data rates than in lower frequency bands. The shorter wavelengths of mmWave signals enable low-latency communication. The MIMO technology allows multiple data streams to be transmitted and received simultaneously. So, the network’s overall capacity is higher than other bands, and it smoothly works in dense urban centers. Lastly, the high band is less susceptible to interference from other devices and signals. It is because fewer devices operate in this frequency range. So it is more reliable and secure for critical applications.

Limitations of High-Band 5G

The high band or mmWave frequency range has several technical limitations. The shorter wavelengths of mmWave signals limit their range. They are more easily blocked by obstacles such as buildings and trees. As a result, more base stations and access points deployment is needed, which increases the cost. High-band 5G experiences higher path loss due to atmospheric absorption. It limits the distance over which it can be transmitted. Also, 5G high bands are more susceptible to interference from atmospheric conditions like rain, fog, or sources of electromagnetic radiation. Lastly, the higher power consumption of high bands can limit mobile device battery life and increase infrastructure energy consumption.

Applications of High-Band 5G

Here are some of the core applications of 5G high bands:
High bands are well-suited for applications that require high-speed data transfer, such as ultra-high-definition (UHD) video streaming, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

High-band 5G is utilized in fixed wireless access. FWA provides high-speed broadband connectivity without the need for a physical wired connection.

5G high bands enable the connection of a massive number of devices and sensors. It can be utilized in industrial automation, smart cities, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Small cells are low-power base stations with 5G high bands. Placing them on streetlights or buildings provide high-bandwidth connectivity to users in the immediate vicinity.
High bands are perfect for real-time communication and mission-critical services, i.e., autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, and factory automation.

Potential for New 5G Bands

Besides the low, mid, and high bands, researchers are exploring new frequencies, such as terahertz (THz) and sub-THz bands, for 5G communication. These bands have the potential to deliver massive amounts of data at extremely high speeds, with low latency and high reliability. Plus, they are considering the unlicensed 60 GHz millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum currently used for Wi-Fi. This band can provide high-capacity connectivity with low latency and low interference. Another promising new 5g bands strategy can be dynamic spectrum sharing. It is the sharing of spectrum between 5G and 4G LTE networks. Overall, the potential of new bands for 5G is enormous. Hopefully, they will come to fruition soon and get the existing structures to a new height.

Potential for New 5G Bands

Bands Product Use Case
Low-band 5G MALIN NR 5310 – 700 Mhz ( n14 and n28) Public Safety, Rural Broadband use cases
Mid band 5G MALIN NR 5345 (n78, n79, or n48 CBRS ) Ideal for Shared spectrum outdoor radio for USA and n78 for international – all types of industrial and enterprise use cases
High Band MALIN NR 2 310 MMW (Support mmWave Band n261/n257) Ideal for high-speed indoor coverage for industrial automation.


Balancing and optimizing the different types of bands for different uses is crucial for tapping the full potential of 5G technology. Low-band 5G offers broad coverage, mid-band 5G balances coverage and capacity, and high-band 5G delivers ultra-fast speeds. The world continues to adopt 5G technology. So, it is essential to consider the benefits and limitations of each type of band. In the meantime, advancements in band technologies may include massive MIMO antennas, beamforming, dynamic spectrum sharing, and edge computing. Plus, the development of new 5G bands could enable even faster and more reliable connectivity in the future.

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