Mobile 5G technology is finally here, and that naturally brings up a few questions — is 5G technology the same as the 5 GHz WiFi that we’ve already had for years now? Not really. The most significant similarity is that both are wireless technologies; however, they do share a couple of features but are still not inherently the same.
There are some significant differences here. For one, 5G is the new cellular standard that is replacing the old 4G infrastructure that we’re currently using. It’s supposed to bring improved download and upload speeds, as well as improve latency and ping rates.
On the other hand, 5 GHz is a radio frequency that WiFi devices use. You might not always be familiar with these frequencies, but you might see them when purchasing a new router — such as in comparing 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz. You might sometimes see the indicates when connecting to a wireless network — the 5 GHz annotation will sometimes follow a wireless network name.
But follow along with us below anyway! We’ll dive into the exact details, and show you how both of these wireless technologies can benefit you in your home or on the go.
Mobile Connectivity — 5G
If you’ve ever owned a smartphone, you’re likely already familiar with how mobile devices get Internet access on the go. When a WiFi connection isn’t available, your smartphone will use a frequency emitted from a cell tower, which connects you to a data network.
Right now, these data networks run on a 4G frequency right now. These are the fastest wireless networks that you can use, at least at the time of this writing. The improvements on 4G — LTE — have made these networks blazing fast, allowing you to download and stream data at breakneck speeds.
That said, 5G should improve on that even more so, but won’t right away. Telecom providers are still rolling out the new infrastructure, though it is available in very select areas around the nation. Once 5G networks start to launch in early 2020, and 5G-enabled smartphones become more prevalent, 5G should offer speeds even better than 4G LTE.
Related to 5G technology, there is something called Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). Setup a router and antenna on your home, get a 5G router, and then this setup will be able to pull in a 5G data network as a WiFi connection to power devices in your home — like laptops, game consoles, computers, Smart TVs, and more.
5 GHz WiFi Frequency
Most WiFi devices can emit two types of frequency bands — 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The similarity between a mobile network and a WiFi frequency band like this is that much like 5G is faster than 4G, the 5 GHz frequency is typically quicker than the 2.4 GHz. Another similarity — 5 GHz frequencies, much like 5G, usually have a difficult time broadcasting through walls and have a shorter signal range.
5 GHz essentially enables faster data transfer speeds, which helps you download and stream data at quicker rates.
On top of that, the 5 GHz frequency helps reduce congestion and interference by allowing the network to run on more channels than what 2.4 GHz was even capable of.
5G and 5 GHz Routers
Now, there is some confusion about 5G and 5 GHz routers. In routers, there is an option for 5G, which is actually referring to 5 GHz. The confusion is here now that there are wireless 5G routers available. However, these routers do two inherently different things.
As discussed earlier, there is now going to be a breed of 5G routers that will work with telecom providers exclusively. Paired up with an antenna setup, these 5G routers are going to be able to pull in the wireless signal from your telecom provider into your home. This is known as a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) package and will be available, for the time being, from telecom providers exclusively.
5 GHz routers will be for wireless internet through your Internet Service Provider — we’re talking providers like Charter, Frontier, Time Warner, and so on. This is usually through Cable, DSL, etc. — essentially Internet that isn’t transmitted through the air.
As you can see, there are some pretty significant differences between 5G wireless networks and the 5 GHz radio frequencies that WiFi devices run on. 5 GHz has been around a much longer time, and have shown a positive difference in WiFi devices over the years with faster speeds and less congestion.
5G wireless technology intends to do much of the same thing, except for your mobile devices when you leave the house. Even with millions of other devices connected up to the same mobile data network, 5G still ensures quick downloading and streaming speeds while offering little to no latency.