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Will 5G Internet Make Wi-Fi Obsolete?

The advent of 5G internet is here. Although there is not total coverage nationwide, you can access 5G networks and get lightning-fast uploads and downloads in many areas across the country. To put just how fast 5G is into perspective, it is over ten times faster than 4G LTE at 3-10 Gb/s, which is also faster than most Wi-Fi speeds. All of this has a lot of users wondering if 5G will make Wi-Fi obsolete? Is this scenario possible?

5G will not make Wi-Fi obsolete because 5G is designed and intended for cellular data access. You still need Wi-Fi to connect many devices like laptops to the internet. It is also possible to use 5G as the data provider for a wireless router, so 5G and Wi-Fi are not mutually exclusive technologies. 

If you have devices capable of using 5G, you probably enjoy download speeds much faster than most Wi-Fi connections. So If 5G is so fast and great, why is Wi-Fi still needed? This article will cover that exactly as well as introduce the new Wi-Fi standard – Wi-Fi 6. Peruse this entire article for all the details on why 5G will not make Wi-Fi obsolete. One big reason is that Wi-Fi and 5G actually work together synchronously and even rely on each other in many cases.

Why 5G Will Not Replace Wi-Fi

5G network with motion

Wi-Fi will not be replaced by 5G because they are dependent upon one another and complement each other too. Wireless demand is increasing, and there are more devices requiring a data connection popping up every day as we explored in our article on the differences between 5G and 5GHz. From cellphones to smart kitchen appliances, there will be no lack of wireless device growth in the coming years. Besides Wi-Fi and 5G supporting one another, there are many devices that do not have the hardware to work on 5G.

Yes, almost all devices that connect to 5G networks can connect to Wi-Fi as well; the reverse is not also true. Many Wi-Fi devices, such as MacBook Pro laptops (on Amazon), do not have 5G or even 4G/LTE capabilities. You might be wondering if 5G internet is so fast, what is the point of having Wi-Fi around at all? Well, cellular data is not the only thing that is improving- Wi-Fi speeds are as well. The new Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6, boosts Wi-Fi speeds to 3-14 Gbps, up from 1-7 Gbps with Wi-Fi 5. 

Additionally, 5G cellular data towers have limits to the number of devices connected to them. If you have ever been to a very crowded gathering, like a large sporting event or concert, you have probably experienced cellular network overload. The same stalling of data is possible with 5G towers if there too many devices connect to it. 

Cellular Data vs. Wi-Fi

Throughout the years, cellular data and Wi-Fi speeds have increased substantially with each new standard, albeit at different rates. Up until 2018, when 5G was first implemented, Wi-Fi was always capable of faster speeds. Here is how cellular data and Wi-Fi speeds have stacked up in their various iterations over the years. As you can see from the chart shown here, Wi-Fi 6 is on par with 5G and is even capable of faster speeds at a maximum of 14 Gbps. 

YearsWi-FiCellular Data
1990-1998N/A2-19 Kbps (2G)
1999-200111-54 Mbps (Wi-Fi 1-3)100 Kbps – 2 Mbps (2.5G to 3G)
2002-201754 Mbps – 7 Gbps (Wi-Fi 3-5)2 Mbps – 200Mbps (3G to 4G/LTE)
2018-present3-14 Gbps (Wi-Fi 6)3-10 Gbps (5G)

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi that allows for many new features and data transfer speeds. For instance, Wi-Fi 6 provides a 10X speed increase over Wi-Fi 5. It does the same essential thing as previous Wi-Fi generations, ie, connects you to the internet – it just does it much faster! Wi-Fi 6 does not only provide faster speeds, but it also allows more devices to be connected to a single router at once.

As smart home devices like the Echo Dot (on Amazon) become more prevalent, Wi-Fi 6 adoption will likely take its course to fill the need for more connection points. It’s worth mentioning, however, that Wi-Fi 6 does not work with your current router, so you will need a Wi-Fi 6 router to benefit from it. Additionally, to achieve the faster speeds of Wi-Fi 6, you will need a device that is Wi-Fi 6 capable. This means there will be some growing pains as we shift from one type of network to the other.

What are the Differences Between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G?

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are fantastic ways to get the internet to your devices. The main differences between the two are that 5G is intended for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Whereas Wi-Fi 6 is designed to be a local private internet connection point at your home or business. Some devices are even capable of connecting to both a 5G and Wi-Fi 6 network, like some of the newer smartphones.

Or you could have a device, like a laptop, that is only capable of connecting to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6 and 5G have virtually the same maximum data rates, so can you just have one and not the other? Well, if you want to provide the internet to all devices in your home with 5G, they would need to be 5G capable, and you would need a cellular data plan for each device. A data plan for each device is cost-prohibitive, so throw that option out of the window. 

You can provide 5G to your Wi-Fi devices with a mobile hotspot, but then the data is bottle-necked through the hotspot, so what’s the point of that? With Wi-Fi 6, you pay one flat monthly fee to provide internet for your home or business, so it is still the ideal choice for this. Plus, with the ability to connect many more devices to the Wi-Fi 6 network than previous generations, you will be better able to set up a smart home!