5G Home Internet vs Fiber: Which Performs Better?
You’ve probably heard a lot about 5G over the last couple of years – in fact, there’s a pretty high chance that it’s what your cell phone uses for data. You might even be using it to read this article.
Recently, 5G internet has expanded from its usual role in mobile data, to also being a type of home internet service, providing a new alternative to older technologies like DSL and cable.
(Note: 5G does not refer to “gigabytes.” The G is for “generation,” as it’s the fifth generation of mobile data technology.)
Overall, both 5G and fiber optic are the top two options for high speed internet. But how do they two compare against one another?
Here’s a breakdown of 5G home internet versus fiber optic internet, comparing speed, reliability, and availability.
5G internet for home connections: a new player in the internet service landscape
5G is mostly known for being the latest standard for cellular data connectivity. Chances are, it’s what your phone uses for mobile data.
Recently, 5G service has become available for home internet as well. It’s available in some regions of the US from several major mobile carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile.
5G home internet isn’t the same as just using your mobile hotspot from your phone as a main connection. Instead, it’s a fixed wireless internet service. Unlike cable or fiber, your internet doesn’t come from physical connected cables, but from wireless signals instead. This happens through a gateway that’s specific to your physical location, so it can’t be used anywhere else. (Unlike your phone’s 5G connection, which you can take with you anywhere.)
As far as speed, 5G home internet can run across a pretty broad range – anywhere from 25 Mbps at the very lowest end, all the way to 1 Gbps in some cases. While it’s not as fast as fiber, it’s generally a notch above cable.
What’s the difference between 5G and fiber optic home internet?
While 5G internet signals are entirely wireless, with no physical connections necessary, fiber internet service transmits the signals using light inside of thin glass fibers.
These connect your home to the provider via an Optic Network Terminal (ONT), which has a similar function to the modems used with cable internet. 5G home internet service uses a different kind of router, generally included when you purchase service from a provider.
5G and fiber also tend to differ in their maximum speeds. On paper, theoretically, both can achieve incredibly high speeds, even as high as 10 Gbps. But realistically, you tend to get higher speeds with fiber than with 5G.
This can also depend on which type of 5G you have. There are two kinds. “Nationwide 5G” is a common term for one version, which isn’t as fast, is more widely available, and is really pretty close to its predecessor, 4G LTE. You’re looking at typical speeds around 100 Mbps – not particularly fast, but sufficient for most typical internet activities.
The second variety, “wide-band” or “millimeter wave,” is able to use higher frequencies to their full potential. This version often offers speeds up to 500Mbps – quite fast, though not as fast as fiber. This type is, however, usually faster than what you’re likely to get with most residential cable internet service packages.
5G vs fiber optic speed: Which is faster?
As we’ve mentioned, the faster wide-band 5G can offer some pretty impressive speeds, often up to 500 Mbps. (This is faster than many cable internet packages offer.)
But fiber wins out here, with significantly higher speeds than even 5G can achieve. Fidium’s home internet service can provide up to 2 Gigs – four times faster than a relatively fast 5G connection.
If it’s speed you’re after, fiber is the better option. With that said, though, 5G is the next best thing if you live in an area where fiber optic internet hasn’t become available yet.
5G vs fiber optic latency: Which has better performance?
Along with its faster speeds, fiber optic internet also features lower latency than 5G home internet. The light signals used for fiber have incredibly fast travel times – it is light, after all, the fastest thing in the universe!
The nature of the technology used to deliver 5G internet can present some challenges when it comes to latency, which aren’t an issue with fiber.
5G vs fiber optic for gaming: Which is the better option?
If you have access to both fiber and 5G home internet as options, fiber is the better choice if you’re serious about online gaming. Fiber’s speeds are well above what’s possible with other types of internet connection, so it’s a no-brainer for serious gamers.
Overall, fiber optic internet offers the fastest internet speeds that are possible with current technology, well outpacing its main competitors like cable, DSL, and even 5G.
The lower latency is also a plus for gamers, as is the generally superior reliability and consistency of fiber connections compared to other kinds of internet.
For gamers, you can’t get much better than fiber.
5G and fiber: two different internet connection technologies
Both 5G home internet and fiber optic internet are relatively new arrivals on the scene, and are capable of reaching higher average speeds than cable internet. Each uses a very different method and type of technology to deliver internet service.
While 5G can be a superior option to traditional cable internet, fiber offers even higher speeds, along with better overall reliability – making it the best choice if you’re into online gaming.
Interested in making the switch to fiber? Click here to find out if Fidium Fiber is available near you!