- Wi-Fi 6 is well suited for indoor, high density areas such as sport stadiums
- For critical Industrial IoT applications, 5G cellular networking is often preferred as it is more reliable, even if indoors
- Cellular networking offers more security and control compared to Wi-Fi, but is often more costly to implement
Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are significant improvements on their predecessors. As a result, both offer opportunities for industrial applications. Whether you should choose 5G or Wi-Fi for industrial applications depends on the use case.
Generally, Wi-Fi 6 provides an internet connection either indoors or in defined high-density outside areas such as sports stadiums. Whereas 5G provides an internet connection to all other outdoor areas, including vehicles or to people on the move. On that basis, a typical industrial use case for 5G would be to remotely track vehicles on the move. And a typical Wi-Fi 6 industrial example would be to provide internet connectivity to capillary networks or any other indoor application falling under the Massive Industrial IoT umbrella.
But before deciding on the best solution, it’s important to go into more detail and check all application requirements. Wi-Fi 6 is cheaper to install and scale, so if your intended application is indoors or in a high density outside area and Wi-Fi 6 meets the requirements, choose Wi-Fi 6. But if your requirements are more demanding and fall into the critical IoT category, then cellular is a better choice, even if the installation is indoors.
Comparing 5G Cellular Networking with Wi-Fi for Industrial Applications
For example, low latency is essential to critical IoT applications. And although latency has improved in both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, the supported levels are lower in 5G. Wi-Fi 6 supports latency down to twenty ms, but 5G supports latency down to one ms meaning that 5G is now a viable option for all but the most demanding critical IoT applications.
Cellular network devices also offer other advantages compared to Wi-Fi. Cellular networks are more secure and easier for operators to control. Cellular networks use licensed spectrum bands which allow operators to exclusively manage their network enabling them to fulfil critical capacity requirements. With cellular networks, it’s easier to limit unauthorized access, possible to use network slicing, and possible to separate uplink and downlink data.