The world of 5G bands, and why n78 is the one that matters


With India on the cusp of getting 5G, brands are buckling up to get the network on their smartphones. While some brands are only now boarding the 5G train, brands like OnePlus have had their priorities set when it comes to 5G in India. OnePlus has been one of the pioneers when it comes to bringing 5G support on smartphones in the Indian market. The company has been working on 5G devices for more than a year now and has been releasing smartphones with 5G support to make the phones future-proof.

The latest network is likely to revolutionise the way we use technology and consume content making it a game changer. But it has been the centre of some confusions as we are yet to experience it first hand.

The low, the high and the mid of 5G

5G as a network is pretty simple. As the name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. Very similar to its predecessor, 4G LTE, 5G in layperson’s terms will offer greater bandwidth resulting in faster than ever download speeds. Networks are generally divided into bands and so is 5G. There are three broad categories of 5G bands– the low, the mid and the high and all three have their own list of pros and cons.

With a frequency range of 600-850 Hz, the low-band has potentially the greatest coverage, because its towers are capable of covering more area, with each cell tower providing service up to several hundred kilometres in radius. That said, while this frequency range is capable of speeds from 30-250 Mbps, it can often end up delivering speeds which are only a little bit faster than what we get from peak 4G (which can go up to 100 Mbps) on our smartphones which
basically defeats the purpose of getting 5G.

On the other end of this spectrum is the high-band 5G, also known as mmWave. This is the fastest band in the range with speeds that can go over 1 Gbps. But with all that speed comes a stunted range. The range of high-band 5G towers is the most restricted which means it cannot cover as much area as the other two bands possibly can. What’s more, this band can even get affected by physical obstructions like glass.

But this does not mean the upcoming, ground breaking technology is all talk and no show. Between Mama Bear’s bed being too soft and Papa Bear’s being too hard, the 5G Goldilocks have found just the right bed. And it is in the middle band of 5G. Also known as sub-6 GHz because it includes frequencies ranging from 2 Ghz to 6 GHz, the mid-band 5G is literally the middle ground we need. With a range greater than the high band and speed faster than low band, the mid-band is the one that looks the most user-friendly of all 5G bands. Yes, it obviously does not have the same speed as the high band or tower range as wide as low band but it does manage to blend the best features of those two extremes. The speeds on the mid-band can go up to 700 Mbps which is significantly faster than a low band, and several times faster than 4G.

Experts even believe that a slow mid-band will be able to go as fast as the fastest low band
which tops at around 250 Mbps, if not faster. All of this put together, make the mid-band 5G not only the best combination of speed and coverage but also the most popular 5G band on the block. Most of the devices that are 5G- ready are also designed for sub-6 GHz 5G network.

The special 5G band – n78

Right in the middle of this mid band is a band which is being used by most European and Asian countries and spans 3.3 GHz to 3.8 GHz. The n78 band which is also referred to as the 3500 MHz or the 3.5 GHz band, and is also known as the C-band 5G is the most popular 5G band. This popularity stems from the fact that it offers good speed, great coverage and to top that, it also is most commonly available. Because the lower frequencies are already being used by 3G and 4G networks, most commercial 5G networks are majorly relying on the 3.3-3.8 GHz range
to deliver 5G.

With the Department of Telecommunications giving a green signal to Indian operators to start the 5G trials in India, it is no surprise that the mid band (3.2- 3.67 GHz) is among the frequencies being used, along with the mmWave band (24.25-28.5GHz) and the sub gigahertz band (700MHz) we well as existing spectrums in the 800MHz, 900Mhz, 1,800MHz and 2,500MHz frequencies. All of which just highlights the importance of the n78 band which is perhaps the most important 5G band out there, both in terms of usage and popularity.

Which is why OnePlus supports it

The n78’s being the popular kid on the 5G block makes it is pretty obvious that it is THE band that people would want on their smartphones. And because it THE band to have, there is a brand that already has it on its latest devices. The Never Settling brand, OnePlus has not settled when it comes to network connectivity as well and has equipped its phones with the most popular, boss-band of 5G band out there, the n78.

The n78 is present on all OnePlus 9 devices, and the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro also offer N41 (2500 MHz) band. And anyone with a OnePlus 9 series phone can enjoy 5G experience outside of India via 5G roaming service co-provided by India and local carriers (when available), or with a local 5G sim card on supported 5G bands. OnePlus has included these bands on its smartphones after working closely with telecom operators and stakeholders on the basis of the priority of Indian and global carriers. The brand has elected to go with the most beneficial 5G band for users in India as opposed to packing bands that may not be as easily available in the country when the network comes to India.

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