Will Mobile 5G replace WiFi?

The 5G future is coming in and fast. A good number of mobile networks globally are already testing their networks and 2019 is expected to see the launch of a good number of 5G enabled smartphones so yeah, 5G is here!

As is the case with any new technology, 5G is still shrouded with a lot of uncertainty. Already 4G LTE, it’s predecessor is quite doing well. True, many people are starting to understand just how big of a deal 5G is, but people still have questions. One of the main ones we get every day is; will 5G replace WiFi?

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Speed: Mobile 5G vs WiFi?

5G has a download speed of more than 1Gb per second. Thats some really impressive speed, right? So, can we replace the wired/WiFi network with it?Quick answer, for some users “Yes”, but for many others, especially businesses and home internet users, “No”. WiFi is just as fast especially with the new standard WiFi 6 which peaks at about 10 Gbps transfer speeds.

You’ll often hear of 5G WiFi which shouldn’t be confused with mobile 5G, the successor to 4G LTE. The former refers to WiFi on the 5GHz frequency band. You have to know that WiFi operates on 2.4GHz(802.11 a/b/g/n), 5Ghz(802.11 ac) and 60GHz(802.11 ad).

Read more: 5G mobile network and 5G Wi-Fi: What’s the difference?

5G devices aren’t quite prevalent in the market just yet

Lets be myopic for a second. At the moment, many carriers across the globe are struggling to roll out reliable 4G-LTE to their customers. The idea that these operators will have their 5G networks up and running in the near future is ambitious at the very least. Also, 5G is a pretty young standard as it is. In a couple of years when the market is saturated with 5G devices and IoTs have taken flight, maybe then the scale will be big enough to allow 5G to take on WiFi.

5G is owned and operated by Carriers

5G technology will be owned and operated by Operators. That means it’s expensive and proprietary technology only networks with big bucks understand. You won’t be able to build/buy your own 5G base station. The 5G connection you get will be to the Internet – not to your own private office or home LAN.

WiFi-specific functions aren’t compatible with cellular networks

5G won’t allow access to private servers, NAS appliances, and other LAN devices, unless they are “cloud-connected” via the Internet. For home networks that have infrastructure like this, WiFi is, and will remain to be the most viable option.

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WiFi with all it’s flaws, especially those of poor spectrum management, “lowest common denominator” capacity and self-polluting transmissions – is simply too prevalent and too successful, especially in corporate environments, to go away or be eclipsed anytime soon.

Related post: The updated guide to WiFi wireless network connectivity

Organizations with corporate Wireless LAN can police and secure their network and users access/behaviour enforced by the organization to ensure data security – but 5G connected devices cannot offer this level of scrutiny and management.

In conclusion, most industry experts predict WiFi and 5G will co-exist for a long time to come and that’s what we think is going to happen.


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