The development of mobile networks meant that more and more people were “hearing something” about the new 5G networks. In the meantime, you may come across people who think that 5G is nothing out of the ordinary, because their home Wi-Fi router “already has it.” Unfortunately, here we are dealing with a slightly incompetent nomenclature used by manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers running the 802.11ac standard (also known as Wi-Fi 5). What is it really about?
Much can be written about the standards and nomenclature used for wireless devices. Especially when it comes to two separate trends, Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks. Perhaps we should focus on the latter at first. GSM became the first mobile network standard widely used to reach public awareness. This was already the standard for second-generation networks, ie 2G. After a while, UMTS or 3G appeared. In turn, the first 4G LTE networks were launched in 2010. Today we are implementing the 5G NR (New Radio) standard. Since this is just the beginning and no one knows exactly what 5G networks will offer in the near future, some have begun to wonder if we need a “new G” at all. Therefore, many false myths have emerged around 5G technology, which is known for its “anti-5G” trend.
5G is another mobile standard
Operators apply the 5G standard for two reasons. The first is the slow but noticeable blockage of existing 4G networks. It is true that terminals appear on the market every year, which allows you to connect more and more bands. As a result, users can download data faster than terminals 5 years ago. However, operators do not have sufficient radio resources to meet the growing demand for data consumption. Here we come to the second reason. Namely, the need to use new frequencies that are not planned to be used by 4G LTE networks. One of the new bands is the somewhat problematic 28 GHz band. We already know today that it will offer very fast data transfer. However, few people are able to predict the practical range of transmitters using such high frequencies.
Why does my Wi-Fi router show a 5G network?
Modern Wi-Fi routers use two unlicensed frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (or 5.8 GHz). Initially, all home Wi-Fi routers used only 2.4 GHz. However, over time, more devices worked, which turned into a high-level intervention. In addition, it is a narrow band that does not allow very fast data transmission. In practice, I have observed that the maximum data download speed in the 2.4 GHz band is about 90 Mbit / s. Therefore, today virtually every operator offers its customers two-lane Wi-Fi routers. These are devices that support the 802.11ac standard, which allows you to use two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. As a result, more and more people are seeing mysterious Wi-Fi 5G networks on their devices.
This is because there are two ways to configure two-band Wi-Fi routers. The first is to use the same SSID for both bands. Theoretically, in such a situation, the user’s device should select the connection in the 5 GHz range and switch to 2.4 GHz if necessary. But it does not always work as it should. Many people complain that their computers are unnecessarily replaced and get stuck at a slow speed of 2.4 GHz. That’s why most people prefer to set up two Wi-Fi networks with different names. Only here comes the question. How to distinguish a network operating in the 5 GHz band from a network using 2.4 GHz? For some reason, it is believed that the name of the access points operating at a higher frequency is “5G”, which is simply an abbreviation of “5 GHz” in the world.
After a while, Wi-Fi routers with real 5G will appear in stores
It is no secret that we use mobile networks in two ways. The first and more popular is the use of smartphones. On the other hand, the second method is chosen by people who have access to the offer of a fixed line internet provider. This is, of course, about connecting to a network using a Wi-Fi router with a modem installed for the mobile network. Currently, such devices use 4G LTE network. However, devices that support 5G networks will appear in the near future.
Manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers are already preparing to adopt a new standard for mobile networks in their products. However, they must master two new solutions at the same time. 5G networks will be so fast that 802.11ac Wi-Fi will not use their potential. Therefore, the new devices will be equipped with systems that support the Wi-Fi 6 standard, ie 802.11ax. However, not every Wi-Fi 6 router will come with a 5G modem. Therefore, before buying a new device, you should read its technical characteristics.