5G Internet: The High-Speed Replacement for Cable?

5G WiFi could be the best option in some areas

Illustration of high speed cables at night in a residential neighborhood
Photo by David Bruyndonckx on Unsplash

If you want fiber-like speeds without the cost, or high-speed internet in an area that doesn’t currently provide it, then 5G WiFi might be something to look into.

While it isn’t available quite yet, there are several reasons to consider using 5G at home when it does roll out in your country.

What Is 5G WiFi?

Similar to how you get WiFi at home right now, either through an existing wireless service like microwave or satellite, or a direct wired connection like cable or fiber, 5G will be able to deliver internet to your home via a direct wireless connection.

5G WiFi is simply WiFi that you get over a mobile 5G network. The way this works is through fixed wireless access (FWA), which is a base station that wirelessly connects directly to an end-user’s location, specifically to a fixed wireless terminal (FWT) on the premises, like your home or business.

Once internet service via 5G WiFi is at the home, for example, your existing WiFi router provides internet throughout just like it's done now.

Why Get 5G Internet?

5G WiFi could be a good idea for a number of reasons. For starters, it'll be really fast - at a maximum theoretical speed of 20 Gbps (2.5 GBs), it's set to be 20 times faster than 4G and most likely faster than many types of wired home connections.

Another component is the extremely low latency standard that 5G networks will be required to abide by. This means that everything you currently do on the internet would be a lot faster, like downloading files, sharing data, uploading videos, online gaming, movie streaming, etc.

All of your devices could connect to the internet without suffering from congestion, video buffering, random disconnects, and other bandwidth related hiccups, meaning even more bandwidth demanding devices could be used at home like virtual reality headsets, augmented reality apps, etc.

5G is also capable of reaching people in areas that don’t have the existing infrastructure to provide reliable internet, or internet at all.

This could be anywhere that wired access is unavailable like in rural areas, new construction sites, developing countries, etc.

Another benefit to 5G WiFi is its reduced cost. Lots of the expense related to network infrastructure, especially high-speed technology like fiber, is the hardware between the provider and the home or business. For traditional wired networks, this means lots and lots of cabling and other equipment, most of which goes away in a 5G WiFi system.

5G mobile providers will be able to offer massive improvements to existing fixed broadband (FBB) providers, so it's possible that this competition could lower FBB costs or provide existing FBB customers with comparable services to compete with 5G providers.

Why Is 5G Better Than 4G for Wireless Internet Access?

Most service providers will implement 5G networks using higher frequency bands than what's used for 4G. This opens up room for more traffic on the network, which translates to greater speeds and higher capacity networks, to deliver everything described above.

5G will also provide greater focus than 4G. What this means is that the radio waves will provide a concentrated beam that can directly target specific users for ultra-fast speeds on an as-needed basis, exactly what you want with a wireless internet technology at home.

See How Are 4G and 5G Different? for more on why 5G is better suited than 4G for home internet access.

When Will 5G WiFi Be Released?

You can’t get 5G WiFi just yet because 5G technology isn't rolled out yet. Its release date depends a lot on your location and service provider, but most are looking at 2020 to be the year 5G really emerges as the next big mobile networking technology.

See When Is 5G Coming to the US? for more information on when Verizon, AT&T, and other providers are planning to implement 5G networks. Others can get an idea for when 5G comes out in their country here: 5G Availability Around the World.