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5G vs WiFi 6 | Difference between 5G and WiFi 6

This page compares 5G vs WiFI 6 and mentions difference between 5G and WiFi 6 technologies with respect to various parameters.

5G is successor to 4G LTE cellular technology where as WiFi 6 is successor to 11 ac technology. Cellular technologies from 1G to 5G follows 3GPP specifications. WiFi technologies follow IEEE 802.11 WLAN PHY/MAC specifications.

What is 5G technology ?

5G technology has been developed as per 3GPP Rel. 15 and beyond. The 5G NR (New Radio) initial specifications have been finalized by 3GPP in december 2017. 5G has been deployed initially as non-standalone mode and later as standalone. In non-standalone mode, control mechanism is leveraged using existing 4G LTE network and data transfer takes place using 5G network infrastructure. In standalone mode, both control and data mechanisms are handled by 5G network itself without any dependancy on legacy 4G LTE network.

5G NR overall architecture

The figure depicts overall network architecture of 5G NR system. As shown it consists of UE (User Equipment), NG-RAN (Radio Access Network) and 5G Core. Refer 5G network architecture➤ which describes 5G network elements and their interfaces.

5G wireless system supports different frequency bands below 6 GHz and above 6 GHz in mmwave range. It supports higher bandwidth (~ 1Gbps or higher), low end to end latency (~ 1-5 ms) and higher data rates (Peak : 1-10 Gbps, Cell Edge: 100 Mbps).

Advantages of 5G

Following are the advantages of 5G cellular system.
➨5G supports excellent mobility due to its roaming support.
➨During the event of data congestion due to increased number of subscribers, 5G can offload traffic to indoor wifi networks.
➨5G offers 10x improvement in throughput, 10x reduction in latency, 10x improvement in connection density, 3x improvement in spectrum efficiency and 100x improvement in traffic capacity and network efficiency.
➨Dynamic beamforming feature which helps in overcoming pathloss at higher mmwave frequencies.
➨Higher bandwidth and data rates can be achieved using carrier aggregation and massive MIMO.

Refer drawbacks or disadvantages of 5G technology >>.

What is WiFi 6 ?

It is the 6th generation of wifi technology which is based on recent IEEE 802.11ax specifications. WiFi is also called as WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network). In order to establish wifi 6 link, one requires wifi 6 compliant routers.


As shown in the WLAN architecture, wifi-6 router is connected with internet using broadband connection. All the wifi 6 mobile phones and other compliant devices connect with wifi-6 router.

802.11ax features and advantages

The figure depicts some of the advanced features introduced in the WiFi6 system. The features are as follows.
• MU-MIMO • beamforming• 1024-QAM modulation• longer size OFDM symbol • higher number of spatial streams (up to 8)• Uplink resource scheduling without any contention unlike 802.11ac etc. • BSS coloring• OFDMA• longer battery life etc.

Advantage of WiFi 6

Following are the advantages of WiFi 6 system.
➨WiFi 6 provides 40% higher peak data rates and 4x improvement in network efficiency.
➨WiFi 6 based scheduling mechanism helps to reduce overhead and latency. Moreover multiple users can transmit simultaneously.
➨WiFi 6 client devices consume less power due to use of TWT (Target Wake Time) feature and hence it enhances battery life.
➨WiFi 6 offers higher security due to use of WPA3 protocol.
➨WiFi 6 uses long symbol duration outdoors and short symbol duration indoors.
➨Co-channel interference is mitigated due to use of BSS color coding.

Refer drawbacks or disadvantages of WiFi 6 technology >>.

Difference between 5G and WiFi 6

Following table uses various parameters between 5G vs WiFi 6 and mentions the difference between 5G and WiFi 6 technologies.

Specifications 5G WiFi 6
• Technology Cellular WLAN
• Standard 3GPP Rel. 15 and beyond IEEE 802.11ax
• Operating frequency Sub 1 GHz, 1 to 6 GHz, Greater than 6 GHz in millimeter wave range at 28 GHz and 40 GHz 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz both
• Spectrum Licensed Unlicensed
• Speed Greater than 1 Gbps Higher than 5G, About 600 Mbps with 80MHz/1 SS, About 9.6 Gbps with 160 MHz/8SS (11ac version gives about 7 Gbps with 160 MHz, 8 SS).
• Range 5G small cells support 10-100 meters range based on their types such as femtocell, pico cell and microcell. 5G mmwave base station covers 2 meters (in indoor) and 300 meters (in outdoor). Greater than 100 meters, Beamforming feature improves range by 4 times than 802.11ac (i.e. wifi5) version.
• Maturity of the technology and its penetration It is at nascent stages and will take few years to reach the current stage of 4G LTE deployments It has already been matured and has deep penetration into our homes, enterprises, residential communities and commercial establishments
• Cost of deployment Expensive Cheaper
• IT administrators Not required Required as wifi networks are installed and managed by them
• Security 5G cellular connections are more secure compare to unknown wifi connections. 5G users are exposed to security risks during process called wifi offloading. 5G will be as secure as 4G LTE today. 5G supports multiple authentication and key management features. WiFi 6 supports WPA3 security protocols to provide high security.
• Mobility Higher Lower than 5G
• Application Outdoors Indoors

Conclusion: As indoor networks, wifi 6 offers low latency, high speed and greater device density compare to 5G. Moreover both 5G and WiFi 6 have their unique features. We can conclude that both the technologies are going to exist together. There is no chance that one will replace the other. Both 5G and wifi-6 technologies have their unique use cases. Moreover in certain use cases, 5G can complement with wifi-6. Refer tutorials on 5G tutorial and WiFi6 tutorial for more information on 5G vs wifi 6 technologies.

5G cellular resources

5G basic tutorial   5G Frequency Bands   5G millimeter wave tutorial   5G mm wave frame    5G millimeter wave channel sounding    Difference between 4G and 5G   5G testing and test equipments   5G network architecture   5G NR Physical layer    5G NR MAC layer    5G NR RLC layer    5G NR PDCP layer   

WiFi 6 Resources

advantages and disadvantages of 802.11ac (WiFi 5)
advantages and disadvantages of 802.11ax (WiFi 6)
BSS coloring in 11ax
RU in 802.11ax
MU-OFDMA in 802.11ax
MU-MIMO in 802.11ax
Difference between 802.11ac Wave1 and Wave2
Difference between 802.11n,11ac,11ad
WLAN 802.11ac tutorial
WLAN 802.11ax tutorial
WLAN 802.11ac frame structure
WLAN 802.11ac Physical Layer
802.11ac MAC Layer
802.11ax basics
WLAN 11a,11b,11n,11ac frame structures

What is Difference between

5G vs 6G    LTE vs 5G TF vs 5G NR    4G vs 5G   

RF and Wireless Terminologies

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