IT News

How Does the University's Upgrade to AT&T's 5G Affect U?

December 2020

The University of Miami is the first college campus in the United States to adopt AT&T's 5G+ and Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) technology. This partnership with AT&T places the U at the forefront of digital transformation by enabling students, faculty, staff, and researchers to develop, test, and use the next generation of digital apps (including Magic Leap's spatial computing platform) in new, exciting, and faster ways. We invite you to learn how the University is ensuring the safe installation of the new AT&T 5G wireless infrastructure and how this affects you.

What is 5G technology?

5G is the world's 5th generation mobile network, which provides ultra-fast speeds, lower latency (the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction), more reliability, and the ability to connect a massive number of mobile devices. This means you can have faster YouTube and Netflix streaming, as well as more voice/video calls, without interruption.

"5G means an opportunity to develop applications that were never possible before, due to the greatly reduced latency," said Max Cacchione, Director of Innovation at UMIT. "The types of innovations that 5G will make possible on campus are in the areas of telemedicine, autonomous driving, AR cloud, multi-platform streaming, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and artificial intelligence (AI)-aided image recognition for augmented reality (AR) headsets. The commonality among these apps is that their users need answers quickly and they often need to transmit massive amounts of data."

Where is 5G available on campus?

As of June 2020, the first outdoor 5G antennas have been set up on the Coral Gables campus. Today, access to the network via AT&T 5G-enabled devices is accessible in high-traffic computing locations, such as at the College of Engineering, the Richter Library, and the green areas in front of the library.

How does 5G compare to 4G?

While today's 4G networks can accommodate a few thousand devices per square mile, 5G will provide fast network connectivity for millions of devices!

Plus, 5G is an advanced technology that hyper focuses its signal to only reach out to specific devices that are 5G compatible. This means that if you're in a 5G area on campus, but you don't have an AT&T 5G-enabled device on you, then the signal won't stream in your direction. On the contrary, 4G frequencies stream the signal throughout the room to try to capture any device in the area.

If you're on campus and have an AT&T 5G-enabled device in your hand, the signal will stream directly to the device (not to the entire room). This means that 5G technology doesn't "travel" without direction; it's built to only emit frequencies to targeted 5G devices. This advancement has made 5G technology even safer than its predecessors.

Is 5G technology safe?

Safety is an important University of Miami service standard. To that end, the University collaborated with AT&T and Waterford Consultants to ensure installations on campus are fully compliant with the testing, standards, and regulations required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Across the country, AT&T ensures the setup process takes place within the correct FCC limits, which strictly follow the required protocol to consider the impact on human health. (The FCC regularly reviews literature and studies performed on safety for humans to guarantee the FCC stays in line with the latest safety information as new technologies emerge.)

The radiation emitted by 5G antennas is less than the determined Federal Communications Commission (FCC) level that is safe for humans. Prior to any 5G installation, the FCC works with various organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to consider impacts on human health.

How can I use 5G on my smartphone?

Although 5G means faster speeds for devices, you may be wondering if you need new devices. To enjoy the benefits of 5G on campus, keep in mind that only AT&T devices that are able to receive 5G speeds will capture it. Smartphone makers, like Samsung and Motorola, are already rolling out 5G-compatible phones, and Apple is expected to follow suit soon. Even if you are not planning on upgrading your phone anytime soon, you can still use your current smartphone on 4G networks until you are ready to upgrade.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the UMIT Service Desk.