Are 5G and WiFi6E Friends or Competitors?
January 10, 2023

When it comes to questioning, Are 5G and WiFi6E friends or competitors, I prefer to answer “They Should be Friends”

  • 5G (cellular technology) and Wi-Fi 6E (wireless LAN) use similar technical methodologies to provide high-end user experiences.
  • Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6E are the latest versions of their respective technologies.
  • Two common approaches being used are
    • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), is the most efficient way to pack data into a wireless signal.
    • Multi-user multiple-input and multiple-output (MU-MIMO), which sends unique data streams simultaneously to multiple users.

Let’s talk now about the differences:

  • Spectrum
    • The spectrum used by Wi-Fi 6E is available to all, as Wi-Fi 6E operates in an unlicensed spectrum (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6Ghz) which means the frequency bands are free of charge, indicating that any person or company can use these bands, while 5G being deployed today called 5G New Radio (5G NR), requires a licensed spectrum. However, 
    • 5G operates in a wide range of spectrum bands, allowing an MNO or enterprise to balance coverage needs between low- and mid-band spectrum, and high-band spectrum and also 5G New Radio Unlicensed (NR U) can leverage unlicensed spectrum to provide additional spectrum capacity when needed by high-bandwidth applications.
  • Cost
    • The cost of Wi-Fi 6E modems is lower than 5G alternatives.
  • Use Cases
    • 5G networks offer a wide range of use cases that need low latency, high bandwidth, and superior reliability. Unlike Wi-Fi, 5G fulfills quality of service
      (QoS), to enable use cases like Industrial IoT, real-time computer-controlled robots, and other latency-sensitive applications.
  • Network Stability
    • Users may find that Wi-Fi networks seem to be less stable than cellular networks. That is because the Wi-Fi frequency bands are public and prone to interference, so conflicts will happen as the number of users increases. 

Also in some use cases like FWA (Fixed Wireless Access), we can see the routers that support 5G and WiFi6E as 5G works as the access node or last mile, and in the building or home, the devices will be connected via WiFi6. 

Research & Markets: 5G FWA Global Market to hit $38.17B by 2026 for a CAGR  of 87.1% – Technology Blog
Image Credit: Everything RF

One example of the routers:

Huawei 5G CPE Pro H122 H122-373 Wi-Fi 6 Plus Wifi 6 Sim Card Router

I see that 5G is better in large-scale outdoor coverage areas and low-latency applications like autonomous driving which needs ultra-low latency within mobility, Also 5G defines full-system, end-to-end specifications, including secure user access and traffic prioritization, while Wi-Fi only provides device-to-access-point physical connectivity.

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