An important question for consumers is Wi-Fi vs. 5G — which is faster? According to new research from Opensignal, the answer is “It depends.”
In its W-Fi vs. 5G testing Opensignal found 5G mmWave is fastest over all Wi-Fi and in both directions, though home/office Wi-Fi is faster than sub 6 GHz 5G in both directions. Even 4G LTE is faster than public Wi-Fi for downloads, while public and home/office Wi-Fi uploads are faster than those for LTE.
That ever-so-fast mmWave 5G can be hard to find, though. Opensignal says that users spend 0.5% of their time connected to high-frequency 5G mmWave networks and 20% to 30% connected to sub-6GHz networks.
Wi-Fi vs. 5G
In downloads, 5G mmWave was fastest (on average 640.5 Mbps), follow by home, office and other types of Wi-Fi (83.7 Mbps), sub 6-GHz 5G (63.9 Mbps), 4G LTE (31.4 Mbps) and public Wi-Fi (21.9 Mbps). The pokiness of public Wi-Fi, Opensignal says, is due to interference from competing signals, slow wired broadband foundations and a lack of high quality access points.
As for upload speeds, 5G mmWave was the leader, with an average of 33.3 Mbps. It was followed by home, office and other types of WiFi (15.8 Mbps), sub 6-GHz 5G (14.1 Mbps), public Wi-Fi (11.2 Mbps) and 4G (8.0 Mbps).
The research suggests that the role of public Wi-Fi may change as 5G becomes more available.
“Wi-Fi will continue to have a role both in the home, at work, and in public locations,” lead analyst Ian Fogg said in a blog post about the Wi-Fi vs. cellular speed research. “But increasingly Wi-Fi will complement cellular as a free or cheap option — not because it is faster — or to support the many existing devices that are able to connect to Wi-Fi today but which cannot connect to cellular because they lack the necessary cellular hardware.”
In January, Opensignal assessed the 5G user experience of the major carriers. T-Mobile won many of the categories and AT&T didn’t win any. Verizon excelled in the video category.