• While 5G networks possess speeds that can compete with wired broadband, 5G won’t replace fibre and copper cables just yet.
  • Broadband connections are still more secure for peer-to-peer file sharing and communication.
  • Well-designed internet connections allow devices to connect internet even below ground. Cellular networks don’t automatically offer that degree of coverage.

With each passing year, homes and workspaces see a greater need for internet access that’s both fast and versatile. A single home PC hooked up to a dial-up connection or a group of PCs at work were sufficient before. Now, however, a single household can have multiple devices that need access to the internet, especially with so many still working from home due to the pandemic. 


So it’s no wonder that more and more places are using wireless networks as compared to broadband connections. The former lets multiple devices use the same internet connection from anywhere in the building, while the latter can support a number of devices, as long as they’re connected to the base router through ethernet cables. 


Given that, now that 5G wireless networks are becoming more and more common, are wired connections on the way out? 


Surprisingly, the answer is no. 


What is 5G? 


5G is merely shorthand for “5th generation” - specifically, the 5th generation in cellular networks. The first generation started in the 1990s, when cellular networks were first established, while the second generation began when people first became able to send each other text messages. The third generation was heralded by phones that could browse the web, and the fourth generation was characterised by faster, more reliable cellular networks that allowed phones to stream content, like on Netflix. 


So rather than replacing wired broadband connections, 5G - and 4G, for that matter - are essentially measuring tools for connection reliability and speed. Also, rather than focusing solely on internet access, 5G is used as a sign that a network can accommodate the Internet of Things (IoT). If you use your phone to connect to any smart device - a TV, for example, you’ll see a faster response when on a 5G connection compared to a 4G one.


Why will Wired Broadband Still Be Relevant?


While 5G networks possess speeds that can compete with wired broadband, there are several reasons why 5G won’t replace our fibre and copper cables just yet. When it comes to internet access on a desktop or laptop, there are other factors to consider. Specifically, these are device compatibility, security, and service coverage and flexibility.


Device compatibility, as the phrase implies, refers to how compatible the gadget is with a 5G network. As you can probably guess, this raises several issues, including but not restricted to accessibility and expense. If a phone isn’t compatible with a 5G network but still does what the user wants or needs it to, they’re not likely to give it up just to get a more expensive 5G device in order to access that network. 


As for security, there’s no question that experts still consider broadband connections to be more secure for peer-to-peer file sharing and communication. Businesses have established something similar using Wi-Fi LAN integration, and those work just fine for many. So convincing such establishments to switch to wireless cellular networks - and possibly be limited to working on their phones as a result - will be difficult, to say the least.


Finally, service coverage and flexibility, which is how well a connection works in a given area, not to mention if a device can connect in the first place. Well-designed internet connections can allow devices to connect to the internet even below ground, but cellular networks don’t automatically offer that degree of coverage. They need to add either a small cell or a distributed antenna system (DAS).


A small cell is an access node covering at least 30 square feet, and it works to enhance a cellular network’s coverage by essentially bringing it closer to the user. Meanwhile, a DAS works with multiple service providers and is usually the solution of choice for large areas - like a sports arena - where cellular service can be impaired somehow.


As far as broadband connections are concerned, delivery is flexible. It can be delivered to homes or offices through coaxial cable or fibre. It can be offered free at some businesses, and people can buy Wi-Fi time for use when traveling. With 5G cellular networks, though, subscription and service models are the only options available.


At the end of the day, though, there’s no reason for 5G and broadband to not coexist, and you can use whichever connection suits your needs better at the time.