Research from Opensignal finds that a crossroads is approaching as 5G cellular connectivity is supporting speeds that are more competitive with Wi-Fi in the U.S. But while 5G provides faster uploads than 4G, only mmWave 5G is faster than Wi-Fi, the researchers found in research about 5G versus Wi-Fi Performance.
The transition is due to the generally higher speeds provided by 5G. The measures vary according to the types of 5G (mmWave, C-band) and Wi-Fi (public, home or office). 4G trailed except in one category (it had faster download speeds than public Wi-Fi).
MmWave 5G had average download speeds of 571.6 Mbps, which is 24.6 times faster than public Wi-Fi (23.3 Mbps). In comparison, what Opensignal calls “5G” (apparently meaning 5G overall) had average speeds of 112.9 Mbps. That was 4.8 times faster than public Wi-Fi (23.3 Mbps). “Other” Wi-Fi – such as home and office – measured in at 89.6 Mbps.
Opensignal said that office Wi-Fi tends to be faster than public Wi-Fi because the latter generally experiences greater congestion and interference, works on variable quality fixed broadband foundations and relies upon older access points.
5G Versus Wi-Fi Performance
Opensignal scored the Wi-Fi and 5G technologies on a scale of 100 with regard to their real-time multiplayer gaming quality. MmWave 5G led at 81.8 (rated excellent), followed by other Wi-Fi (76.3, excellent), 5G (74.5, fair), public Wi-Fi (72.0, fair) and 4G (68.5, fair).
On the upload side, mmWave 5G offered 30.5 Mbps followed by 5G (15.6 Mbps), public Wi-Fi (19.5 Mbps), other Wi-Fi (19.0 Mbps) and 4G (7.9 Mbps).
“For a long time, users have assumed that W-Fi always offers a superior experience to cellular connectivity, when using the Internet on mobile devices, either at home or in public places,” Ian Fogg, the leader of Opensignal’s analysis team, wrote in a blog post. “Improvements to mobile technology with the evolution to 5G mean that this is no longer the case. In particular, the roll out of mid-band 5G spectrum, such as the C-band, is helping to boost the overall U.S. 5G experience and is making cellular much more competitive with Wifi.”
Last year’s Opensignal speed report found 5G mmWave fastest in both directions. It also found that office Wi-Fi was faster than sub-6 GHz 5G for both uploads and downloads.
Regardless of speeds, people like Wi-Fi. In February, the Comcast 2021 Wi-Fi Trends Report said that there has been a 12-fold increase in devices connected to these networks since 2018.