It is the 5G Band Number, Not the Number of 5G Bands that Matter

May 19, 2021 4:23 PM

OnePlus is believed to have settled on these 5G bands based on the priority of Indian and global carriers and after closely working with telecom operators and stakeholders.

Oneplus smartphone, one plus 5G phone, 5G n78 band, OnePlus 9Even in india, the Department of Telecommunications permitted Indian operators to start 5G trials for six months.

The next big thing in the wireless communications world is 5G. The next generation in wireless connectivity, 5G is expected to bring unprecedented Internet browsing and download speeds to mobile phone users all over the world. Small wonder then that a number of manufacturers have started including 5G connectivity in their devices, even in India, where 5G connectivity is not yet available. One of the leading brands which committed to making each of its device 5G compatible was OnePlus, which has been releasing devices with 5G support for more than a year now. 

However, the non-availability of 5G in India that has led to some confusing debates. With 5G itself not being available, many devices are being evaluated on the number of 5G bands that they support.  Now, there are broadly  three categories of 5G bands – the low, the mid and the high. Each has its own benefits and shortcomings. 

The low, high and mid side of 5G

On one side is the low band, which comes at 600-700 Hz. Its advantage is reach with each of its towers capable of covering wide areas. However, with this coverage comes a compromise – the speeds in the lower band are generally in the region of 30-250 megapbits per second (Mbps). Considering that 4G itself comes with a peak speed of Mbps, the lower band sometimes might appear as fast as, and even slower than a 4G connection. 

On the other end is the high band, which is also called mmWave. This is 5G at its speediest – with speeds that can go over 1 Gbps. Of course, there is a catch – the range of 5G antennas is not the greatest and is actually the least of all three. What’s more, this band also can be affected by physical obstructions like glass, 

Bang in the middle of these comes the mid-band, which is also known as sub-6Ghz because it includes frequencies ranging from 2 Ghz to 6 Ghz. It has got greater range than the high band and while not as fast, is much faster than the lower band, with speeds that can go up to 700 Mbps. In simple terms, many experts believe that even a relatively slow mid-band will be as fast as if not faster than  the fastest low-band (which tops of at around 250 Mbps). 

n78- the 5G band that really matters 

As it offers  the best blend of coverage and  speed, it is hardly surprising that of the three categories of 5G bands, the mid-band is easily the one that’s the most popular right now. The majority of commercial 5G networks are in fact relying on the 3.3-3.8GHz range to deliver 5G. That is because the  lower frequencies are already being used by 3G and 4G networks.  In fact., most (if not all) 5G-ready devices in the market are designed for the sub-6 GHz 5G network,

And bang in the middle of this mid-band comes the n78 band, which is also referred to as the 3500 MHz or the 3.5 GHz band, and also called C-band 5G by some. It is the band used by most European and Asian countries and spans 3.3 GHz to 3.8 Ghz. The reason for its popularity is not only the fact that it offers good speeds with good coverage but also that because it is more commonly available (as we pointed out, lower frequencies are already being used by 3G and 4G providers). 

Even in india, the Department of Telecommunications permitted Indian operators to start 5G trials for six months using the mid band 3.2 – 3,67 GHz), the mmWave band (24.25-28.5GHz) and the sub gigahertz band (700MHz) along with existing spectrums in the  800MHz, 900Mhz, 1,800MHz and 2,500MHz frequencies. No matter how you look at it, the n78 band is perhaps the most important 5G band out there, simply in terms of usage and popularity. 

…and the 5G band on the OnePlus 9 series 

And it is this 5G band, the n78 that is seen on all OnePlus 9 devices, with the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro also offering N41 (2500 MHz).  And those with a OnePlus 9 series device can experience 5G not just in India but also in other nations via 5G roaming service co-provided by India and local carriers (when available), or with local 5G sim card on supported 5G bands.

OnePlus is believed to have settled on these 5G bands based on the priority of Indian and global carriers and after closely working with telecom operators and stakeholders. And given how popular n78 is, it seems to be a choice that based on what the users are likely to get and benefit from rather than just packing in bands that might not be as easily available commercially when the network comes to India. After all, the N78 band is the one that is being used by most countries – it has a record of providing good speed and coverage.  

In essence, the support for the 5G n78 band almost ensures that when 5G does come to India, it will run comfortably on a OnePlus phone. It is not about the number of 5G bands supported that counts, the 5G band number that the phone supports. And right now, n78 is perhaps the most important of the lot.

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