5G vs. Wi-Fi: How they’re different, and why you’ll need both

It has been a few years since the United Nations Human Rights Council recognized Internet access as a basic human right, albeit in a non-binding resolution, but most of us have seen it as an essential part of our lives by far. more time. . Smartphones have become the most popular way to connect to the Internet and we have two technologies to connect us: mobile networks and Wi-Fi. Both technologies are constantly evolving and improving.

When a new generation of mobile network technology appears, it often presents itself as the bright future of our Internet connectivity and, sometimes, it is suggested that it replaces everything else, but the idea of ​​5G against Wi-Fi is false because What we really want is both.


We have a detailed explanation of what 5G is, but in summary, 5G is the general term for the fifth generation of mobile network technology and covers many different elements. Cellular or mobile networks are based on licensed spectrum bands, which are auctioned to the highest bidder. Carriers, like Verizon or AT & T, have to pay to use those bands. To extend the coverage, they have to build a network of connected base stations capable of sending a signal strong enough to serve several people (thousands in urban areas) at the same time. To recover your investment, they trust us to pay for subscriptions.

Wi-Fi is based on an unlicensed spectrum that is free for anyone to use, but the signal is relatively weak. We pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to deliver the Internet to our door and then we use a router to fill our house with Wi-Fi. Using the same frequency band as your neighbors can be a problem, especially if you live in a very densely populated area. The two frequencies used by Wi-Fi are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. In simple terms, 2.4Ghz has a lower potential maximum velocity, but penetrates better, so it has a range longer than 5Ghz. It is worth noting that 5GHz Wi-Fi has absolutely nothing to do with 5G mobile networks.

In everyday life, most of us rely on Wi-Fi at home or in the office (or in coffee shops) and mobile networks when we go out the front door and out of reach of the router. Our smartphones are automatically changed and we do not have to think about it, because the important thing is simply to have a good connection at all times. That scenario will continue to be the case for the vast majority of people after the implementation of 5G. The difference is that both mobile networks and Wi-Fi will accelerate.

The possibility of download speeds between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps, and a loading speed or latency of only 1 millisecond, has excited people with 5G, but the reality is that we will not normally approach the theoretical maximum speeds. The actual speed of your 5G connection will depend on many factors, including where you are, what network you are connecting to, how many people are connecting and what device you are using. The objective is to achieve a minimum download speed of 50 Mbps and a latency of 10 ms. That will represent a significant improvement over current average speeds, but as with 4G LTE, the 5G coverage will expand slowly. It will also work hand in hand, not only with Wi-Fi, but with previous generations of mobile network technology, so 4G LTE will continue to be offered as an alternative and will continue to evolve and accelerate.

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