Is Librem5 intended to be 5G compatible?

Where does Librm5 stand vis-a-vis with 5G technology ?

Was 5G part of Librem5 design or a consideration for furure compatibility ?

5G is very controversial, many claim that it may cause cancer due to its high frequencies.

Everyone, please do a research before convincing yourself that you need to have it in your life.

Radio frequency waves are non-ionizing, so I have no clue why you think they could be able to cause cancer if they can’t even directly damage DNA inside cells.

Sure at very high levels you could heat up body tissues, but either phones or the cell towers don’t reach the level of energy.



Thank you mladen for link, but it’s referred to early 2018 post, is something changed after 2 years?
My mobile Company is offering 5g at special price right now, it’d be great for me to have it but what if I can’t use it with my Librem5?
Is Purism considering to makes a new Librem5g ?

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They won’t need to make a new phone, you’ll be able to get a new modem and stick that in place of the old one. Right now, 5G modems are quite power-hungry and there isn’t much in the way of network support (which is exactly like LTE was at the start - I forget which model it was, but the first Android LTE phone was mocked for its terrible battery life).

At the moment, I don’t know of any discrete 5G modems (all the current ones are integrated into an SoC which forms the entire core of a phone), but when they do come out, you’ll be able to just buy one and install it. You can already get your own choice of 4G modem (find your favourite computer parts shop and search for M.2 WWAN), so there’s definitely precedent for such user-replaceable parts.

Incidentally, this is also a way of changing your IMEI that doesn’t run afoul of various laws - pop in a new modem. You can’t do that with any other phone.

What I read isn’t only modem, 5g also needs different antennas and I don’t think we can substitute its

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To update the Librem 5 to 5G you would need not just a modem that supports but to replace also the frame with the antennas.

This is a possibility in the future.


Wouldn’t that just be if you want to use the mmWave functionality of 5G, though? As far as I know, the existing antennae will work perfectly well for 5G networks using the current frequencies (which is what I believe will happen as older network standards get retired).

Sure, you don’t get the faster speeds that mmWave 5G offers, but they’re still going to operate it on the traditional frequencies purely because they have better range and can penetrate more obstacles.

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considering that so many people are in lockdown (err, house-arrest :sweat: :mask:) around the world … 5G and mobile phone use indoor is ridiculous to me … unless you bought the L5 to support ongoing GNU/Linux on the mobile market …

Or maybe 3D print a new back with accommodations for antennas (using the two main antennas) for the default antennas

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:joy::joy::joy::sweat_smile: That’s so true, reC

But, for example in my case, because I’m “home arrested” and I’m suffering digital divide where I’m living (no tradictional home cable internet, no 5ghz internet antenna,… just mobile internet (poor 4g, a lot of buffering) or satellite(too expensive)) so for that I’d like to use 5g at home (work, webinars…)

Just putting it out there … but another option for 5G could be an external module, which module incorporates modem, antenna and additional battery - connecting to the phone via its USB port. Solves some problems. Adds at least one new problem. Exacerbates an existing problem: the phone would be even bigger and even heavier. (The same approach could be used in order to get satphone functionality on the Librem 5 without sacrificing 4G or WiFi connectivity.)

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We’d open a pool, Kieran. I prefer sacrifice dimensions and weight for more functionalities

High-band 5G (mmWave, 24-80 GHz) is a totally different beast than low-band 5G (less than 1 GHz) and mid-band 5G (2-6 GHz). An mmWave 5G base station can only transmit about 500 meters, and due to the line-of-sight requirements, they need to be deployed about every 250 meters in dense urban areas (which are the only places where it makes economic sense to deploy them). However, 5G in the low-bands and mid-bands has the same range as LTE. A mid-band 5G tower has a radius of several miles and a low-band 5G tower can cover hundreds of square miles.

I used to believe the same, until I investigated it some more. 5G is substantially faster than LTE when using the same frequency bands and the same frequency channel width. The issue is that most Americans can only get 5G through low frequency bands, which transmit less data than higher frequency bands. T-Mobile offers 5G to 80% of Americans, but it is mostly at 600 MHz, and AT&T offers 5G to 25% of Americans, but is mostly at 850 MHz. At those low-bands, 5G is only going to be 40-100 Mbps, which is a little faster that what LTE-A currently offers at the mid-bands. However, when 5G is offered at the mid-bands, which is how most of 5G is being rolled out in China, Europe, S. Korea and Japan, it offers very substantial speed advantages over LTE-A and LTE-A Pro. The issue is that the only carrier offering mid-band 5G was Sprint, and it currently being incorporated into T-Mobile, so it was shut down for a while.

AT&T n5, n260 850MHz, 39GHz
VERIZON n261 28GHz
T-MOBILE n71, n260, n261 600MHz, 28GHz, 39GHz
SPRINT n41 2.5GHz

Mid-band LTE-A can match the speed of low-band 5G, but low-bands simply can’t carry that much information, so you are really comparing apples and oranges. Gigabit LTE can match the speed of mid-band 5G, but Gigabit LTE consumes a lot more frequency channels to do it.

In order for the US to start offering 5G that has real speed benefits, the carriers will have to start shutting down their existing 2G and 3G networks to free up frequency space to use for 5G networks or frequency space will have to be taken from others, such as ham radio operators and the C-band used by satellites.

5G is designed for spectrum sharing with LTE, so I think that most network operators will keep their existing LTE networks for the next decade which is a good thing, but I see many other problems.

My objections to 5G are the following:

  1. A 5G modem consumes 2.0-2.5 times as much energy as an LTE modem, and a 5G base station consumes 3 times as much energy as an LTE base station (although that is mitigated to some degree because 5G supports “sleep mode” when not in use). 5G will cause shorter battery life for cell phones and an increase in global energy consumption. I don’t doubt that 5G modems will get more energy efficient and batteries will gain more energy density in the future, but that will take time.
  2. High-band 5G is a wasteful use of resources. It will require a large number of new base stations and a large increase in energy consumption, but it will only benefit a limited number of people due to its short range and line-of-sight requirements. It requires new antennas in receiving devices and handheld devices will need antennas on every edge since hands can block the signal. This wouldn’t be a problem if the costs of implementing high-band 5G were born only by the small number of people who will use it, but the costs will be spread out over all users, which means higher costs for all users of cellular networks.
  3. High-band 5G requires base stations every 250 meters in urban areas, and the effects of so much high frequency radio pollution on people hasn’t been properly studied. Many of the people who are absorbing this high-frequency RF pollution won’t even be using high-band 5G.
  4. Implementing 5G will make most cellular devices obsolete, so it will force a massive wave of planned obsolescence. There is a lot of industrial and business equipment that currently depends on 2G and 3G networks, which will have to be replaced. Most phones and tablets sold in the last decade support LTE, but many do not support VoLTE, which will be a requirement with 2G and 3G shutting down. Many carriers will employ whitelists to ensure that only approved models that support VoLTE are allowed to use their cellular networks, which means millions of devices will be needlessly junking in the coming years.
  5. 5G phones cost substantially more to manufacture than LTE phones and require much larger cellular baseband chips, so the cost of participating in digital society rises. Society benefits when larger percentage of the population has internet access, which the higher cost of 5G will hinder. There is limited benefit to society of higher speed access, due to the falling marginal utility of higher speeds. 1Gbps does not provide twice the utility of 0.5Gbps.

The high-band 5G is very useful at events with lots of smartphones. Think of football, baseball arenas, here the directional capabilities of the phased array antenna’s is helpful in serving the crowd.

Not being able to buy the sophisticated Huawei products is a great disadvantage that the USA inflicted on themselves.

Happy and prosperous 2021 for all freedom lovers.

At this time, you can go to some carriers and purchase a stand-alone 5G hotspot. Would wifi or Bluetooth support the full data transfer rate of 5G, going in to your Librem 5 (or Android or Apple) phone? If not, how about using the USB-C to deliver 5G speeds in to your phone? Some of these 5G stand-alone hotspots even have ethernet (CAT-5/6) plug-ins in to them which looks odd since the 3G/4G stand-alone hotspots never seemed to have that, at least that I ever saw. Some of these new stand alone hotspots now look like mini, battery-powered routers with only an antenna, a CAT-5/6 input, and a USB-C input.

this isn’t 5G but it’s free software so it should be ok for people looking for LTE >


Maybe in some places, the limiting factor is the speed of the internet to the cell tower, but Opensignal found that the 5G download average in downtown US cities was determined by the frequency:

If speed to tower were the limiting factor, then Verizon and AT&T should be winning, because they consistently have better 4G download speeds, but look at how Sprint’s 4G + mid-band 5G provided the best average download speed in US cities:

Every article that I have read so far on the subject says that the lack of mid-band 5G has been the reason why 5G isn’t providing much of an improvement in average download speeds in the US compared to other countries.

@amosbatto i don’t feel confortable trusting statistics alone … i’m more oriented on the real-world speed and how much stable the signal and thus the speed remain … if the speed goes up and down many times in the span of just a couple of seconds it would be more acceptable for me to have a constant flow @ 100 Mb/s than speculative ~700 Mb/s TOP speed. minimum and average are more reliable numbers coupled with captured traffic screenshots or real life transfers over the period of 1 min so that the Dl/Upl ratio indication line is clearly visible over time.