EMI Shielding for 5G: It’s a Whole New World

5G (fifth generation) is the newest communication infrastructure and electronic device  advancement to enable a multitude of faster, more functional, comprehensive technologies and human services available to everyone.  5G is used with mission critical communications, internet of things (IoT) and mobile broadband telecommunications.

5G Frequencies and Wavelengths

The FCC recently granted 280 MHz from 3.70 to 3.98 GHz for the popular mid frequency 5G band.  The popularity of this mid range is due to increased speed of data deliverability compared to the low range, and increased connectivity in buildings compared to the line of sight high range.

4G relies on lower frequency bands which are now crowded with radio and communication uses, even to the point of requiring refarming, or sharing, which is difficult and expensive to pursue.  5G operates at higher frequencies, some known as millimeter waves or mmWaves.

At these frequencies wavelengths are much shorter and so engineers must take into account the ramifications this poses, particularly in the area of EMF attenuation.  For electromagnetic shielding purposes, if we take a look at 3.98 GHz, the wavelength (λ) is 2.97 inches.  At this frequency of interest, if there is a 1.49 inch (a half wavelength) open or non-conductive aperture such as a slot, seam, or power/signal connector mounting surface in a shielded electronic enclosure there will essentially be no electromagnetic shielding attenuation.  For a common commercial shielding level of approx. 40 dB, for example, the maximum aperture at this frequency would need to be no larger than 0.02 x 1.49 in., or 0.030in.  Therefore attenuation efforts surrounding 5G will be vastly different when it comes to internal interference and possible exterior EMI noise.

General 5G EMI Shielding

5G allows us to perform complex tasks, even in the most mundane of daily life.  Consider, for example, what appears to be a simple task:  A grandmother is at her son's house remotely checking her refrigerator through connected sensors for a Sunday family dinner.   She then remotely orders groceries while receiving real-time manufactured peanut allergy alerts for hidden product ingredients.

A simple thing?  Seemingly, but the 5G technology that allows it to happen is not quite so simple.  Everything must work together flawlessly, from the smartphone in grandmother’s hand to the refrigerator’s IoT sensors and on to the smart ordering system, plus the alert notifications.  One small shielding oversight or glitch and the whole, mundane life experience comes crashing down.

Open apertures and/or non-conductive areas greatly reduce the shielding ability of an electronic enclosure by letting electromagnetic and radio interference (EMI/RFI) either escape from or enter into electronic products or systems, therefore enabling the electronic product or system to malfunction or fail.  Some examples on shielded electronic enclosures that are susceptible, non-conductive areas or open apertures are:

  • Cable entry (specifically where connectors are mounted to the enclosure),
  • Power and signal access panels,
  • Shelter man doors, airflow vents for heating and air-conditioning, and viewing windows, etc.

Military 5G Use Cases and Attenuation

The US military is utilizing 5G technology by separating command and control into segments making all networking aspects more flexible, transportable, and faster by connecting everything (smart devices and systems) to everyone (command operation personnel and soldiers).   Another example of 5G will be enhanced reality and virtual reality solder training due to greater data speeds, lower latency, and more system connectivity.

For military enclosures needing to pass MIL-STD-461, 60dB, 80dB or higher attenuation levels are required to achieve compliance.  At these levels of electromagnetic shielding attenuation, open apertures and/or non-conductive areas cannot be larger than a few thousands of an inch.

5G in Medical Applications

The medical industry is incorporating 5G devices and infrastructure for device profile priority, security, fast upload/download speed, and very low latency.  This, for example, enables surgeons to safely and efficiently operate remotely from anywhere around the world using computer controlled robotic equipment to perform a multitude of surgical operations.

But, obviously, any EMI interference could have drastic, life-threatening implications. Even though attenuation requirements may not be on the same level as military specifications the need for proper shielding from other operating room equipment or remote access locations, for example, needs to be considered.  And internal interference cannot be allowed to exist in an environment where at any moment latency or equipment malfunction, if even for a second, cannot be tolerated.

5G EMI Shielding Expertise

To greatly reduce or eliminate the possibilities of stray EMI to desired requirements, MAJR Products Corporation offers a wide variety of conductive EMI/RFI shielding and environmental protection products.  The range of shielding products include: strip gaskets for door and panel shielding, connector gaskets, honeycomb air vent panels, conductive viewing windows, and RF absorber material.

If you’re engineering a 5G application, having trouble obtaining demanded specifications for attenuation, or are looking for innovative products to help you achieve those specifications, talk to the engineers at MAJR Products.  We be happy to help you design a solution or provide you with a quote.