5G and Wi-Fi are two entirely different technologies that are complementary to each other in improving the speed of networks and bandwidth. Rather than replacing, one aids the other.
This blog post seeks to clear the air that surrounds these two unique technologies and elaborate on how they support each other.
Before we answer more specific questions about these premises, let’s start with the basics of what 5G and Wi-Fi denote.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks that follows older mobile network generations, including 4G, 3G, 2G, and 1G in descending order. As an upgrade from 4G, 5G promises higher data speeds, improved network capacity & reliability with minimal latency. It depends on licensed spectrum bands which are paid for by internet service providers (ISPs). Internet service providers use these bands to provide network coverage with powerful signals for thousands of users at a go. ISPs demand customer subscriptions to benefit from this service. 5G came into the limelight in the year 2019 and has been aiming to increase in reach since then.
How fast is 5G?
A report shows that 5G should have a high download speed between 1Gbps and 10Gbps and an incredible latency of 1 millisecond with a minimum download speed of 50 Mbps and not over 10 milliseconds of latency.
However, this is far from the actual reality, as 5G currently delivers an average download speed of 57 Mbps. The 5g download speed that you get in the real world might be nowhere close to the theoretical speed, which depends on other external factors, including:
- The 5G network that you connect to
- The location of use (some locations do not support the 5G network yet)
- The type of 5G device in use
- The number of people connected to your network
Based on the factors highlighted above, users can get a wireless speed as low as 50 Mbps on the 5G network, which does not have any significant improvement on older generations of mobile networks. Moreso, different internet service providers offer different average download speeds on the 5G network. Hopefully, the 5G download speed and coverage will improve in the coming years.
What About WiFi 6?
Just like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is the latest wireless technology with improved benefits to previous wireless models, including Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 uses both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. The former boasts of longer wireless range but low network speed and the 5GHz frequency has a fast network speed and shorter wavelength.
However, Wi-Fi depends on an unlicensed spectrum that has a somewhat low network signal.
Is ‘5G’ Wi-Fi faster?
Now, don’t confuse 5G with ‘5G’ Wi-Fi. All modern routers can broadcast on at least two different frequencies, which are the 2.4GHz frequency and the 5GHz frequency. The 2.4GHz frequency has been in use for a long time before the invention of the 5GHz frequency. The 2.4GHz frequencies have a low data transmission rate and longer wireless range caused by network interference from devices that transmit electromagnetic radiation. However, the 5GHz Wi-Fi has a faster data transmission rate and shorter wireless range.
5G vs Wi-Fi 5ghz
Many people have the misconception that 5G is like the 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency because of their similar prefixes, and this is not the case. This may be partly because a lot of routers use ‘5G’ as a short form of the 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency. However, the 5G mobile network is not identical to Wi-Fi 5GHz. While 5G is a term simply used for the fifth generation of mobile networks, 5GHz (5 gigahertz) is the second of the wireless frequencies (the first is the 2.4GHz) that is associated with multiple band routers (dual-band, Tri-band). The 5GHz frequency has a faster wireless speed, reduced network interference, and lower penetrating power when compared to the 2.4GHz frequency.
That your router displays ‘5G’ does not mean that it broadcasts the 5G wireless signal.
Is 5G Faster Than Wi-Fi?
To compare the speed of 5G and Wi-Fi is difficult because they are both different technologies with unique benefits. However, they can work together to improve internet speed and wireless connectivity.
Is 5G faster than 4G?
5G has a higher data transmitting capability than 4G, it also offers a better overall user experience with a capacity to connect to more devices at a faster speed.
5G network provides 50-times more speed, 10-times reduces latency, and has 1000-times more capacity than 4G.
To be straightforward, 5G is faster than the 4G network because it uses higher-frequency radio bands to deliver signals.
5G vs WiFi 6
We already established that 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are different technologies with unique importance. Next, we will consider the variabilities of the two innovative technologies in terms of the technology, connectivity, license, network security, and the location of use.
- Technology – Wi-Fi 6 is a wireless version of LAN technology, while 5G is the latest cellular technology
- Connectivity – Wi-Fi 6 requires the use of access points and routers from internet service providers to connect to the internet. However, 5G provides connectivity to connected devices.
- License – 5G operates in licensed spectrum bands to prevent network interference between connected devices. However, Wi-Fi 6 does not demand permission for use, as it operates under unlicensed bands.
- Network Security – with Wi-Fi 6, the network is easier to secure for connected devices than cellular networks. Wi-Fi 6 incorporates the WPA3 encryption security feature for a more robust wireless security. However, securing the 5G network is more cost-intensive, and it offers additional benefits in terms of security to older mobile networks.
- The Location of Use – 5G is best for outdoor settings that require longer ranges. However, Wi-Fi technologies are best suited for indoor environments like homes and offices. This does not mean that you cannot use Wi-Fi outdoors, for instance, you can use Wi-Fi 6 in large outdoor spaces like sports stadiums.
5G and Wi-Fi 6
Although 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are different technologies that support network management, they can team up as a force to aid network connectivity and coverage. With these technologies working hand in hand, the future of internet connectivity is bright with a promise of better internet speed, alongside a flexible and reliable network. They both have the possibility of delivering benefits like high gigabit speeds and reduced latency.
We should look beyond the question of which is better and focus more on how the two innovative technologies can work together to aid the growth of IoT (internet of things) and edge computing applications for large firms and industries.
What Now? – The Future of Internet Connectivity
The major setback of the 5G network is its limited availability of the 5G network in different areas. Another is the scarcity of 5G-enabled devices and the high cost of the few available ones.
While we can all agree that what we are getting from 5G is far from what we expected, a lot of improvements are still ongoing to enable users to gain full access to all the juicy benefits that 5G promises.
Hopefully, 5G coverage areas will increase in the coming years and there will be more inventions of 5G enabled devices. Owing to these improvements, 5G users can expect faster speed and minute latency on their wireless network soon.
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