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Are you confused between 5G and 5GHz WiFi? Well, a lot of people are! 5GHz Wi-Fi and 5G are both used for wireless connectivity, however, they don’t have anything else in common. 5G is a cellular band and 5GHz is a Wi-Fi band. Anyone who is referring to 5G WiFi is actually referring to the wireless standard and not the cellular network.
5G: The New Cellular Standard
You would be hearing a lot about 5G in the news these days. 5G is a new cellular standard which is also referred to as ‘Fifth Generation’.
Why? Because it is the fifth generation of the cellular standard! 5G is the successor to 4G LTE and 3G, which even though not very old, are very much a thing of the past these days.
5G has a very low latency when compared to the 4G LTE network, hence it is much faster than its predecessor. 5G was rolled out in 2019 and today you can find multiple smartphones that use the 5G technology.
Cellular carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, etc have also rolled out their 5G mobile networks in a few countries. With 5G, now you can enjoy wireless connectivity in your homes at a very fast speed, without using a WiFi router, through the 5G cellular network itself.
Since we have discussed the 5G cellular networks, now you must have got a fair idea that the 5G cellular network is entirely different from the 5G WiFi network.
What is 5G WiFi?
WiFi technology offers two frequency bands. These are the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz WiFi bands. When compared with the 2.4GHz, the 5GHz WiFi is the newer band. It was introduced with the 802.11n WiFi standard, which itself dates back to 2009.
The 5GHz WiFi band is faster when compared to the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. It is faster because it removes congestion from the network as it offers non-overlapping channels.
If you live in an apartment building where there might be multiple people using their own WiFi router, you will observe a lot of congestion because of the many Wi-Fi networks. The 5GHz network will help you access WiFi at a faster bandwidth in these scenarios.
Although the 2.4 GHz WiFi band is slower, it has its own advantages. It can cover a larger area when compared with the 5GHz WiFi band and is good at passing through the walls due to its longer radio waves. A 5GHz WiFi band has shorter radio waves which help in faster connection but they cannot cover as much area as the 2.4GHz band.
Nowadays, dual-band and tri-band routers have become fairly popular. These routers host both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz wireless bands.
5G WiFi Network – Even more confusing?
Now, people who have dual-band or a tri-band router will name their wireless networks something like “My Network – 2.4G” and “My Network – 5G”. This adds to the confusion, thanks to the new 5G cellular network.
Dual-band routers that support 5G WiFi can be configured in different ways. These routers can host both the 5GHz network and 2.4GHz network simultaneously. This is great if you are using multiple devices since it helps in segregating the traffic between the devices. This increases the wireless connectivity. Dual-band routers together with the beamforming technology and MU-MIMO have become the norm these days.
Coming back to the WiFi networks, if you name both your WiFi networks the same there might be implications. For example, if you name both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz networks as “My Network”, each of your devices will automatically switch between 2.4GHz and the 5GHz band. There is a catch though. All the devices cannot automatically switch the bands very effectively.
For that reason, it is always recommended to name your WiFi networks according to the wireless band so that you can connect each device to its preferred wireless network. This not only helps in distributing the wireless bandwidth properly but it also allows for faster internet access. And for this reason, most of the consumers prefer to have two different wireless networks for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz band respectively.
5G WiFi – Is this a thing?
Back in the day (and still in some parts on the world) where 3G and 4G LTE were the prevalent cellular standards, some people started calling 5GHz WiFi as 5G WiFi since 5G is the new standard.
Now, 5G WiFi was, and is not an official term, however, due to the shortness in the name people started using this naming convention to address a 5GHz WiFi band. But now, since we also have the 5G cellular network among us, the usage of 5G WiFi becomes a tad bit confusing.
What’s your take on 5G cellular network versus The 5G WiFi? Do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Hi, I’m Ian. I’m a Cisco Certified Network Professional and I’m in love with networking. On this blog, I write how-to guides and review Wireless Routers and other network devices. You can check out my website below.