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

5G Wi-Fi might be the best option in some areas

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

While it isn’t available everywhere, there are several reasons to consider using 5G at home if and when it rolls out in your area.

Illustration of high speed cables at night in a residential neighborhood
David Bruyndonckx / Unsplash

5G Wi-Fi in the context of a mobile network isn't the same as 5 GHz Wi-Fi supported by some routers. See 5G vs 5 GHz Wi-Fi for an explanation.

What Is 5G Wi-Fi?

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

5G Wi-Fi is simply Wi-Fi that's providing internet access from a 5G tower. One way this works is through fixed wireless access, which is a base station that wirelessly connects directly to a fixed wireless terminal on the premises, like your home or business.

You can also use a hotspot to turn the mobile network connection into Wi-Fi for your local devices like a tablet, gaming console, laptop, etc.

Why Get 5G Internet?

For starters, it's really fast—at a minimum theoretical speed of 20 gigabits per second (2.5 gigabytes per second) per cell, it's over 10 times faster than 4G and most likely faster than many types of wired home connections.

Another aspect is the extremely low latency standard that 5G networks are required to abide by. This means that everything you currently do on the internet is a lot faster with 5G Wi-Fi, like when downloading files, sharing data, uploading videos, playing online games, streaming movies, etc.

All your devices can connect to the internet without suffering from congestion, video buffering, random disconnects, and other bandwidth related hiccups, meaning even more bandwidth-demanding devices can be used at home, like extended reality headsets.

5G is also capable of providing reliable internet in areas that don’t have the existing infrastructure to provide decent internet, or internet at all. Most likely to benefit are places where wired access is unavailable—like in rural areas, new construction sites, and developing countries.

Another benefit 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 conventional wired networks, this means lots and lots of cabling and other equipment, most of which goes away in a 5G Wi-Fi system.

5G mobile providers can 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?

Some service providers are implementing 5G networks using relatively high frequency bands, a part of the radio spectrum unused by 4G networks. 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 also provides greater focus than 4G. What this means is that the radio waves provide a concentrated beam that can directly target specific users for ultrafast speeds on an as-needed basis, exactly what you want with wireless internet service at home.

Where Is 5G Wi-Fi Available?

It's available in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. You can’t get it anywhere you are because not all companies have upgraded their infrastructure to support the technology. 5G availability depends on many factors, including your location and service provider, but most are currently adding new locations to their network every few months.

In fact, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report in late 2022, "FWA is growing strong, with 300 million connections projected in 2028."

See Where Is 5G Available in the US? for more information on where Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and other providers offer service. Others can get an idea on coverage area here: 5G Availability Around the World.

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