5G has arrived in Swift Current, at one location so far.

SaskTel has brought the future of wireless service to Swift Current, with the first upgrades being made to one of the city's cell towers.

The cell tower in question is located just outside the InnovationPlex. Sharp-eyed individuals may have noticed that they have been able to receive 5G coverage when at the arena for the last few weeks.

Greg Jacobs, an external communication manager with SaskTel, is excited to finally bring the announcement out in the open, with SaskTel planning to upgrade the five remaining towers in Swift Current by this summer.

"Meaning that the vast majority of residents and the surface area of Swift Current will be covered by 5G," said Jacobs. "Now, speaking of the work that needs to go into making these upgrades, for the most part, the upgrades that we're making right now is taking new radio equipment and installing it on existing towers."

This new equipment allows 5G signals to be cast and received out of the tower. One of the great things is the ability to increase speeds going forward, to keep up with fifth-generation wireless devices.

"Right now, we'll be able to deliver data speeds of up to 1.2 gigabits per second from a 5G tower," said Jacobs. "As that network matures and we get new frequencies and new spectrums to add to that network, we'll be able to increase those data speeds to our customers significantly."

So long as a device has 5G capabilities, there should be a noticeable increase in speed in the new wireless zone. Over time, as that zone expands over the whole of Swift Current, and devices continue to change and upgrade over time, these speeds should uniformly increase as well. 

Another big thing is the number of devices that can connect to the network at a time will also be on the rise. If you've ever been at a large venue outdoors, away from wifi, you may have noticed data speeds dipping as everyone's devices ping off the same tower. Events like football or soccer matches that attract large crowds are good examples of when someone might feel the influence of an overburdened 4G tower. With 5G, that should become a distant memory in the near future. 

"When you're talking about smart devices, those are the types of technologies that are really waiting for a platform that can they can connect to," said Jacobs. "That will allow users, industries, and homeowners to really start taking advantage of the next generation of smart technologies. That's really where we're going with 5G."

Some folks may have concerns regarding 5G and the kind of signals these towers will be generating. A common rumour is that they emit RF emissions that are dangerous to humans. A quick perusal of Health Canada's website reveals that they would not be operating if outside the industry standard safety limits for human exposure.

"Telecommunications providers in Canada, SaskTel included, have to abide by Health Canada regulations related to RF emissions from our towers," acknowledged Jacobs. "All of their guidelines that are encased in what they call Safety Code 6, set out the thresholds in which SaskTel and other telecommunications providers can offer and can operate our towers within."

Phone plans will not need to be updated in order to take advantage of this network upgrade. So long as a cellphone or wireless device is capable of receiving a 5G signal, it should incorporate it automatically. The only exception may be speed being limited through limited data plans. Any unlimited data plan will be capable of handling the speeds that this tower can and that others will soon, produce.