5G vs. WiFi 6: Should they have a win-win cooperation?

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On September 16, 2019, the WiFi Alliance announced the WiFi-6 certification program, and China’s 5G license was issued as early as June this year. 2019 is the commercial first year of 5G and WiFi-6. The two are also quite topical recently. In the future, WiFi-6 and 5G will face each other, and WiFi-6 will gradually be eliminated. However, many people think that WiFi-6 and 5G are competitor, but it can also be a win-win cooperation.

Let’s compare 5G and WiFi 6 now.

1.What is the 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology. The industry association 3GPP defines any system using “5G NR” software as, “5G”, a definition that came into general use by late 2018. Others may reserve the term for systems that meet the requirements of the ITU IMT-2020.

Table 1 shows the features of five generations of cellular network technology.
Generation Features
1G 1G uses analog cellular networking, which is the beginning of the era of mobile communication, but 1G analog communication has poor anti-interference, and the reusability and system capacity are also poor.
2G 2G is generally defined as a communication method that cannot directly transmit information such as emails and software. Only has a call and some mobile communication specifications such as time and date. However, SMS can be executed in certain specifications of 2G. In the 2G era, people can only talk and browse some text information.
3G The 3G network combines wireless communication with multimedia communication means such as the Internet, and can simultaneously transmit voice (call) and data information (email, instant communication, etc.). The main feature of 3G is to provide high-speed data services. Greatly improved in the speed of transmitting sound and data, it can achieve wireless roaming on a global scale, and handle various media formats such as images, music, video streams, etc., including web browsing, conference calls, e-commerce, etc. A variety of information services, but also consider the compatibility with existing second-generation systems.
4G 4G is a technology that integrates 3G and WLAN and can transmit high-quality video images with the same image transmission quality as high-definition TV. 4G network is 2000 times faster than the dial-up Internet access, and its upload speed can reach 20Mbps. It can meet the requirements of almost all users for wireless services. 4G features faster speed, flexible communication, high intelligence, high quality communication and low cost. With 4G technology, we can watch movies at any time and no longer become a luxury.
5G 5G is different from 4G, 3G, and 2G. 5G is not a single wireless access technology, but a general solution for a variety of new wireless access technologies and existing 4G backward evolution technologies. To some extent, 5G is a true converged network with a transmission rate of 10Gbps for mobile communication technology. 5G communication technology, the mobile data traffic per unit area is increased by 1000 times in terms of capacity; in terms of transmission rate, the typical user data rate is increased by 10 to 100 times, the peak transmission rate is up to 10 Gbps (4G is 100 Mbps), and end-to-end The delay is shortened by 5 times. In terms of accessibility, the number of network-connectable devices is increased by 10 to 100 times; in terms of reliability, the battery life of low-power MMC (machine-type devices) is increased by 10 times. In the 5G era, not only is the speed faster, but the tariff is also cheaper.


2.What is the WiFi 6?

You can watch this introduction video of WiFi 6 at first and learn more details in the following post.

WiFi6’s original name (and standard code) is 802.11ax, which is the sixth generation of WiFi technology. Undoubtedly, compared with previous generations of WiFi, its technology will be more advanced. WiFi-6 will provide faster speed, high throughput, greater coverage, better security, and lower latency for users with a better and more enjoyable experience.

The following are the features of WiFi 6:

(1). Support for compatibility with the 2.4GHz/5GHz operating frequency band, the speed has been greatly improved.

(2). The MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output System) is improved, that is, it can support 8 terminal devices to transmit more data in the uplink/downlink at the same time.

(3). The OFDMA (Uplink and Downlink Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) is introduced to achieve complementary transmission with MU-MIMO. The OFDMA technology further improves network efficiency and reduces delay.

(4). The highest modulation 1024QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation mode) can encode more data in the same amount of spectrum to improve throughput, throughput is increased by 15% compared to WiFi5, and its maximum connection rate can reach 9.6Gbps.

(5). The TWT (Target Wake-up Time) new technology feature allows the connected device to wake up and go to sleep at any time, reducing the battery drain of the connected device by about 30%.

(6). SRT (Spatial Multiplexing Technology) solves the signal interference caused by cross coverage, which improves its anti-interference ability.

Table 2 shows the comparison of Wi-Fi Technologies.
Standard Code 802.11b 802.11a 802.11g 802.11n 802.11ac 802.11ax
Other Name WiFi-4 WiFi-5 WiFi-6
Released Time 1999 1999 2003 2009 2013 2019
Frequency 2.4GHz 5GHz 2.4GHz 2.4/5GHz 5GHz 2.4/5GHz
Channel bandwidth 20 MHz 20 MHz 20 MHz 20/40 MHz 20/40/80/160 MHz 20/40/80/160 MHz
MCS scale 0-7 0-9 0-11
Max Modultaion CCK 64QAM 64QAM 64QAM 256QAM 1024QAM
Max spatial flow 1 1 1 1 4 8
Max rate 11 Mbps 54 Mbps 54 Mbps 150 Mbps 3.5 Gbps 9.6 Gbps

3. The Comparison of WiFi 6 and 5G

Compared to 5G, WiFi 6 also has its advantages. From the perspective of indoor coverage, 5G networks use higher frequency millimeter waves and higher C-Band and need to build a lot of base stations. Coupled with the increasing environmental awareness of residents, it is difficult to build base stations into residential neighborhoods. It means that 5G is worse than 4G’s ability to penetrate the wall and it is more difficult to receive signals indoors. The WiFi-6 installed indoors makes up for the defects of 5G network, and the 5G main and WiFi 6 mains are perfectly matched.

With the advent of the era of Internet of Everything, there are more places where traffic needs to be used. From the perspective of cost, if the 5G traffic package is charged by volume, the more traffic is consumed, the higher the cost will be. If the rate is charged, the user wants higher speed. It also requires a higher cost, so if you calculate the total amount by family, it is more cost-effective to use WiFi.

From the perspective of network capacity, if a 5G base station carries too many terminal devices, it will be difficult to load, and the use of WiFi can share the bearer pressure of the 5G base station. On the connection, many terminal designs do not support the insertion of SIM cards or ESIM cards, and need to be connected through WiFi. For WiFi-6 with better network speed quality than before, there is still an irreplaceable value.

Table 3. WiFi 6 vs. 5G
Product 5G WiFi 6
Commercial time 2019 (China) 2019 (World)
Frequency 3.3-3.6GHz, 4.8-5GHz 2.4GHz/5GHz
Theoretical Max rate 10+Gbps 9.6Gbps
Cost High: There must build many base stations Low: Just Upgrade the AP
Key Technologies NOMA, Millimeter wave, Large scale of MIMO, Cognitive radio technology, Ultra-wideband spectrum, Multi-technology carrier aggregation OFDMA, MU-MIMO, 1024-OAM, TWT, SRT
Application scenario AR, VR, IoT, Car networking, Remote control, Smart manufacturing, Smart home, etc. AR, VR, IoT, Car networking, Remote control, Smart manufacturing, Smart home, Education, Public transportation connection, shop, home, etc.

cisco wifi 6 ap

The 5G network is suitable for open, mobile, and intensive device connections. WiFi 6 is suitable for home networks and private enterprises. Therefore, the 5G and WiFi 6 are still perfect and complementary. Therefore, WiFi 6 and 5G should be developed on the road of mutual progress, mutual complementation and mutual integration.

Related Topics:

8 Key Technologies of 5G

9 Benefits that 5G Can Provide while 4G Can’t

802.11ax? What is 802.11ax?

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