5g vs 6g

5G vs 6G: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

Introduction to 5G and 6G Cellular Networks

What is 5G?

Fifth generation (5G) cellular network technology was first launched for commercial use in 2019. 5G delivers drastically faster data speeds, lower latency, and the ability to connect a far greater number of devices simultaneously than 4G LTE networks. With peak speeds estimated to reach 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), 5G brings near instantaneous connectivity and uninterrupted streaming even in crowded locations or congested networks.

What is 6G?

Sixth generation (6G) wireless networks are still in early developmental and testing phases, with initial commercial deployment timelines targeted between 2028 and 2030. 6G aims to build upon the strengths of 5G and take connectivity to unprecedented new levels using innovations in areas like AI, nanotechnology, and advanced spectrums and waveforms. 6G speeds could reach an astonishing 1 Tbps (terabit per second), with latency of just 100 microseconds.

Key Differences Between 5G and 6G


As mentioned above, maximum estimated speeds show a dramatic leap from 5G to 6G. While 20 Gbps peaks sound impressively fast for 5G, 6G takes it up an order of magnitude to 1 Tbps yes, terabits per second! Such virtually instant transfers will enable remarkable new technologies.


Latency refers to network delays or lag time. 5G already provides exceptionally low latency at around 5 milliseconds (ms) to 10 ms for the faster mmWave spectrum. However, 6G aims to achieve an astonishing 0.1 ms latency using new techniques eliminating processing delays. This allows for groundbreaking real time communication and collaborative experiences.

Spectrum Range

5G utilizes current radio spectrum frequencies up to 100 GHz, requiring high frequency mmWave installations for the fastest data rates. In contrast, 6G will unlock vastly wider chunks of untapped spectrum above 100 GHz even into the terahertz range. This brings much greater bandwidth potential despite challenges from increased attenuation levels at such frequencies.

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Connected Devices

Thanks to multidimensional networks and advanced multiple access techniques, 6G could potentially support over 1 million connected devices per square kilometer a huge leap over 5G’s 1 million devices per 100 square kilometers!

Main Use Case Differences

5G Use Cases

Ultra HD video streaming – 5G brings seamless real time streaming even for data heavy 4K or 8K videos crucial for videographers and content creators looking to review footage on location.

Smart cities – 5G networks provide the foundational connectivity smart cities need to link infrastructure, vehicles, IoT devices and their citizens together through endless data.

Remote healthcare – Telehealth, remote surgery and ambulance services benefit enormously from 5G’s rapid speeds, high bandwidth and low latency connectivity.

Autonomous vehicles – Self driving vehicles collect vast sensor data from their surroundings and rely on ultra reliable low latency 5G vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication to operate safely.

6G Use Cases

Fully immersive extended reality (XR) – 6G will facilitate collaborative multi-user XR spaces with haptic feedback through innovations like digital twins – ideal for creative fields, advanced training simulations and gaming.

Precision agriculture – Humongous collections of sensor data from soil, equipment, weather patterns etc. can optimally guide farming through AI, robots and drones using 6G’s spectrum sharing and massive capacity.

Wireless brain-computer interfaces – With massive bandwidth supporting rapid data flows, 6G could revolutionize neural implants for controlling prosthetics or restoring functions after paralysis or brain damage.

Holographic communication – 6G’s high frequencies can transmit vast holographic data quickly enough to enable realistic telepresence applications like 3D video conferencing or interactive performances.

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H3. Health and Environmental Differences

5G Health Concerns

There are some health concerns around 5G frequencies mainly related to the higher energy beams from mmWave antennas. However, research hasn’t found any firm links between 5G technology and issues like headaches, infertility or cancer. The FDA notes 5G equipment still falls well below exposure limits despite more antennas.

6G Health Impact

With even higher frequencies carrying greater energy, more research is vital to determine safe 6G equipment use around people and any unknowns around long-term extended exposure. Engineers continue seeking creative solutions to mitigate health risks like using intelligent surfaces to precisely steer beams where needed.

5G Environmental Impact

5G brings substantial energy efficiency and carbon emission improvements over older networks. However, the deployment of far more hardware like small cell towers poses environmental challenges around materials extraction, water use and waste. Energy consumption also grows with increasing data flows.

6G Environmental Goals

Sustainability is a key driver within 6G research, as engineers emphasize optimizing resource efficiency in these future systems. Their aim is to achieve up to a 90% decrease in 6G’s energy usage, carbon footprint and waste compared to 5G levels through innovations in hardware, data routing, and renewable or ambient energy sources.

Table: Key Spec Differences Between 5G and 6G Cellular Network Generations


In summary, 6G aims to build upon 5G foundations and revolutionize wireless connectivity to unprecedented new levels. While 5G brought massive leaps over previous generational shifts, 6G promises another order of magnitude faster speeds, lower latency, expanded spectrum support, and capability to connect sheer oceans of devices simultaneously.

This will facilitate immersive new technologies from collaborative multi user virtual realities to wireless brain interfaces and holographic communications. It could also optimize important sectors like medicine, transport, manufacturing, and agriculture. However, more research is essential around safety and environmental sustainability for 6G to fulfill its transformative potential.

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While 6G deployment remains years away, the two generations will likely co-exist for some time just like the gradual 4G to 5G transition occurring now. So consumers will continue enjoying 5G’s benefits meanwhile on our steady march towards 6G connectivity.


What frequencies will 6G use?

6G will utilize previously untouched higher frequencies up to 3 terahertz (THz), going far beyond 5G’s millimeter wave upper limits. This brings much greater available bandwidth despite hurdles like increased signal attenuation.

When will 6G be commercially available?

Many estimates expect initial 6G commercialization between 2028 and 2030, with widespread implementation through the 2030s. The most ambitious timelines target some availability by 2026. However, considering early 5G launches came nearly a decade after research began, commercial 6G could potentially take longer than predicted depending on technological progress.

Will 6G completely replace 5G?

Not immediately. Much like the gradual shift occurring now from 4G to 5G networks, 6G will co-exist alongside 5G for years after initial introduction, with gradual infrastructure changes enabling the new generation over time. Legacy 5G networks will likely remain dominant through the 2030s.

What companies are developing 6G?

Some major companies actively researching future 6G network technology include Samsung, LG, Huawei, OPPO, Nokia Bell Labs and Ericsson. Numerous universities have also founded 6G research centers and consortiums in countries like Finland, Japan, China and Canada.

How fast could 6G get?

While early 6G predictions aim for 1 Tbps, theoretical models have shown room for further generational advancements over 100 Tbps! However, engineers caution such speeds may remain unrealistic in actual cellular implementations despite dazzling proof of concept experiments. Near term goals stay under 1 Tbps for now.

MK Usmaan