With some of best android smartphones now supporting 5G, it makes sense to consider investing in the new wireless standard. Today’s 5G networks are based on sub-6 GHz (sub-6) or millimeter (mmWave) waves, and the two serve different purposes. For example, sub-6GHz can travel long distances with slightly faster speeds than 4G. On the other hand, mmWave has a shorter range than sub-6 GHz with overall network speeds higher than 4G. Neither can combine speed and distance in one package, so we need C-Band to effectively bridge that gap as a good middle ground.
What do C-Band and sub-6Ghz mean?
When we talk about 5G networks, C-Band refers to radio frequency with a wireless spectrum range between 4 GHz and 8 GHz. Interestingly, C-band also falls into the sub-6 GHz category, which is any radio frequency between 1 GHz and 6 GHz. C-band and sub-6 GHz each have properties in the mid-range wireless spectrum for US 5G networks, with lower level frequency crossover. The mid-range bands, in particular, are crucial for 5G because they provide excellent wireless coverage overall, which is necessary for mass deployment. Since C-band is part of the medium wave frequency, it has the advantage of providing a balance between distance, speed and stability.
Currently, C-band in the United States is between 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz frequencies as defined by the FCC. Other parts of the world use between 4 GHz and 8 GHz. Most 5G companies in the United States have focused on a specific C-band spectrum between 3.7 GHz and 3.98 GHz. Why this particular range? Because the FCC auctioned off that unused spectrum in 2020 to major US mobile carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Verizon was the biggest spender, but those carriers offered more than $80 billion to grab that bundle of C-band frequencies for their 5G networks.
What about the difference between C-band and mmWave?
Millimeter wave can be defined as a frequency range of 24 GHz to 40 GHz, placing it in the high-bandwidth wireless spectrum. Verizon, for example, has been actively pushing millimeter waves since the early days of its 5G network. At this frequency level, smartphones and other network devices can operate at extreme speeds with the lowest possible latency. However, millimeter waves cannot carry this kind of power wirelessly over long distances, which is its ultimate downside. With a more balanced mid-frequency range, C-band will finally allow us to reach higher speeds compared to 4G with a distance greater than a millimeter wave.
Millimeter Wave was designed to be a high throughput 5G solution with low latency for insane data transfer speeds. We’re talking 5 Gbps and beyond. It’s the height of millimeter wave technology when everything has been perfected in the future. To achieve those multi-gigabit speeds on millimeter-wave 5G, you usually need a clear image from the 5G antenna or tower. Even the slightest obstruction can turn a solid 5G experience into a mediocre one. That’s why more and more wireless carriers have prioritized sub-6 GHz over mm-wave since the launch of 5G.
What makes C-band a necessity in today’s 5G wireless networks?
Both sub-6GHz and millimeter-wave 5G networks have their pros and cons, with neither being a perfect choice for every situation. Sub-6GHz offers great coverage delivering similar speeds to 4G, but that doesn’t represent a true generational leap. Millimeter waves deliver ultra-fast next-gen speeds. However, the shorter distance issue makes it difficult to deploy on a large scale. For 5G to be considered a success, speed and coverage must be unified under a single wireless standard. C-Band is designed to do just that, delivering the 5G experience we’ve been waiting for for years.
The easiest way to describe how C-Band will take our 5G to the next level is to look at our current home Wi-Fi networks. In a traditional dual-band Wi-Fi setup that uses both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the 2.4GHz signal offers the greatest wireless range with decent overall speeds. Alternatively, 5 GHz can push higher speeds with lower latency. However, it has a considerably shorter distance than 2.4 GHz. This is similar to what we have been dealing with in the 5G wireless networking space when comparing sub-6 GHz to millimeter wave.
Band C and Wi-Fi 6E will shape the way we use our wireless devices
Starting with the Wi-Fi 6E standardwe see now tri-band wireless routers supporting 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz frequencies in our home networks. The same 6 GHz frequency that sub-6 GHz uses for 5G connectivity, we have access to it in our homes today. In terms of Wi-Fi, the 6 GHz band allows for higher wireless speeds with much less interference, which is perfect for a smart home environment. 6 GHz will have a shorter wireless distance than 2.4 GHz or 5 Ghz. However, the range issue is no longer an issue if you have a proper Wi-Fi mesh network.
What Wi-Fi 6E is currently doing to revolutionize our home networks, C-Band will do for our 5G wireless experience. Although not a comparable comparison, they share a similar goal: to provide the best possible wireless experience to the general public. Both technologies will shape how we use our wireless devices inside and outside the home. Wi-Fi 6E and a mesh networking system will give you maximum coverage with high speeds and low latency. C-band should provide a much-needed boost to 5G’s wireless range and increased speed over what 4G offers. A real generational leap.
C-band also plays a key role in our 5G home wireless networks.
5G is not only essential for our smartphones. We have also started to see this technology making its way into our home networks. Rather than deal with physical network cables, opt for a 5G-capable modem instead. Once the SIM card is activated, you’ll be surfing the web using a wireless 5G signal from your home in no time. C-Band plays another important role here. It enables higher average internet speeds with better coverage and reliability. We will finally be able to consider 5G home wireless networks as a real substitute for traditional Internet service providers.
It is also no secret that some places are governed by an internet service provider monopoly where a single company serves an area. As we saw earlier, this tends to hurt consumer choice in the long run. With C-band offering a better balance of speed and coverage, ISPs can bring new 5G home services to more markets. Giving that choice back to the consumer allows us to choose what works best, not the other way around. Using C-band for 5G home wireless networks should benefit our future and help improve our experience.
Which US wireless carriers and devices will support C-band?
As for US wireless carriers that will offer official C-band support, we have the usual variety: AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. You will also need a compatible device. Many 5G flagships already work with C-band. Some examples include the Samsung Galaxy S21/S22 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip/Fold series, Google Pixel 6/7 series and iPhone 12/13/14 series . On top of that, you’ll need to live somewhere that offers C-Band. You can consult all cities and all phones supporting 5G C-band in the United States for more detailed information.
C-Band can elevate our 5G smartphones and home internet connections
Finding the perfect harmony between speed and wireless range has been a constant challenge for 5G until now. C-Band will help bridge this gap and improve our 5G smartphones and home internet connections at every level. Creating a new benchmark standard can be challenging for the wireless industry. Still, the benefits of C-Band are worth it. Sub-6GHz and mmWave will likely remain for the long term, even after C-band adoption increases. In particular, we see millimeter wave technology being used in the future due to its high-speed, low-latency approach.
Now that you all know how C-band will benefit 5G networks, find out everything you need to know about Starlink. We cover what this new internet service provider is looking to change and how it’s using satellites in space to make it happen.