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5G WiFi vs. WiFi6: Is This a Battle That Can Bring Out Only One Winner?

Over the decade, we saw the rapid innovation in technology which led to an increased dependence on connectivity. Today, access to the internet is a major part of the average consumer’s life as more businesses and activities are becoming digitised. This has set in motion the demand for improved networks such as 5G wifi which connect faster and can cover a wider range.

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The year 2020 is set to be a turning point in the telecommunications industry as mobile network operators (MNOs) set in motion  plans to launch both 5G WiFi and WiFi6. With two seemingly different options being thrown to consumers almost at the same time, it is quite easy for confusion to set in on the option to go for. 

In this article, we analyze both options.

What is 5G wifi?

5G is a fifth generation cellular network set to replace 4G and LTE. Unlike its counterparts, the 5G network is not a single wireless access technology, but a generalized solution for various wireless access technologies. According to research done by Daniel Monoli, most MNOs believe that the deployment of the 5G network could unleash hidden capabilities of the Internet of Things (IOT).

According to reports by Ookla, there are over 100 5G operators who have deployed 5G networks for commercial use around the globe.The countries leading the charge include South Korea, the US, the UK, Germany and China. In 2020, countries like Canada, Switzerland and Sweden are expected to join.

What is WiFi 6?

WiFi 6 is also the next generation of WiFi technology which improves upon the current 802.11ac. With the number of gadgets in the world increasing, WiFi 6 or 802.11ax WiFi was built as a response.

WiFi 6 certifications began in September 2019 with the first set of hardware rolling out in January 2020. Some devices that support it include the iPhone 11 which was launched in September 2019.

5G Wifi vs WiFi 6: Comparison of Selling Points

Below, we compare the features, similarities and differences between 5G Wifi and WiFi 6.

Latency

The time it takes for data from your device to be uploaded and reach its target is called latency. Time taken for data to leave the source and reach the final destination is measured in milliseconds (ms). 

Compared to older WiFi models, WiFi 6 has a lower latency as it makes use of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) to pack data into a signal. The latency of WiFi 6 alone is 30ms.

For 5G, there are expectations that latency can be cut down from 10ms to 1ms. Currently, Huawei’s Air Engine makes use of both WiFi 6 and 5G powered antennas to have a latency of 10ms.

Speed

The WiFi 6 offers a base speed of 1.2Gbps while the 5G Wifi base speed is 150mbps. The current capabilities of the WiFi 6 However, there are expectations that the 5G Wifi would pick up to reach the promised 10Gbps.

Battery Life

5G Wifi and WiFi 6 are more energy efficient than their predecessors. The WiFi 6 embraces the use of target wake time (TWT) technology which helps customize how and when a device receives data. This way, devices can sleep while waiting for the next data transmission.

5G on the other hand demands more power for it to operate. As a result, manufacturers such as Samsung have had to increase the battery capacity of their smartphones to extend battery life.

How 5G Wifi and WiFi 6 Can Complement Each Other

Instead of focusing on the superior wireless connection, the two networks can leverage on the strengths of one another to elevate user experience. This can be done through:

Location based use

There are certain locations where 5G Wifi would be best put into use instead of WiFi 6 and vice versa. For example, in locations where there are high density users (shopping malls, convention centers etc.), it would be best to use WiFi 6 as it offers stronger connections to support business applications. It also provides an avenue by which congestion can be reduced from 5G networks thereby making it the best option for indoor use.

5G Wifi on the other hand is better for outdoor use as there is no need to have a router on you to gain access to the internet.

Industry based use

Both 5G and WiFi 6 offer exciting opportunities in the development of enabling technology and acceleration of Internet of Things (IoT) in sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare and energy. This will lead to shorter time periods to perform tasks and also increase the quality of output.

Conclusion

In the comparison of the features and capabilities of the 5G Wifi and WiFi 6, it is safe to say that there is only one winner. That winner happens to be the consumer who is spoilt for choice between the two innovative wireless networks. This increases the possibilities that could come from a more connected world.

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