Mobile device download speed

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.

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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.”

Opensignal Wi-fi vs. 5G chart
Source: OpenSignal

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.

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2 thoughts on “Wi-Fi vs. 5G Speed Report: Not All Wi-Fi (or 5G) is Created Equal

  1. I am interested in them breaking out the other category. It is hard for me to believe Office speeds are just 83.7 Mbps on average. There has to be something in that grouping that is bringing the number down.

  2. Yes, its called noise or traffic noise in the system. Where there are to many devices that are passing malware they do not even know about. This takes a lot of band-width up. The taxes we are paying the U.S. Government is the issue and the FCC failures. Then again what is new!
    The waste we are doing now with Wi-Fi and fiber is a joke to the rural area. I do not like 5G, but in reality, it is the only system out there for the rural broadband that makes sense in all areas.
    That is what the FCC has been doing, illegally selling the people bandwidth to monopolies because they are the one greasing the wheels of our political parties. So congress just looks the other way to this corruption! These bandwidth should be only leased for long terms until the next technology comes. The likes of AT&T will not be developing these technologies, they will just leverage them because they own all the bandwidth along with foreign companies which we cannot do in their countries!

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