5g Connectivity is probably the next big thing for connectivity and smartphones however, there is a lot of confusion that surrounds the whole concept of 5G connectivity.
However, the main confusion that has always been the two different types of 5G connectivity – mmWave and sub-6GHz and a question why chipmakers usually add both or only sub-6GHz support to their SoC, if they have to choose between two 5G networks.
The basic answer to this question is to offer better coverage and uninterrupted connectivity. But, it is only a part of the equation. Let’s explain.
mmWave vs. Sub-6GHz: The difference lies in speed and range
Millimeter waves or mmWave and sub-6GHz are both 5G frequencies. However, both differ in their own way and have their own limitations and advantages. Unlike 4G networks, 5G connectivity uses a very wide range of frequencies and is therefore divided into two different sections – mmWave and sub-6 GHz.
mmWave uses high frequency radio bands ranging from 24GHz to 40GHz and it is an ultra-fast 5G capable of delivering extremely fast internet speeds.
Sub-6GHz 5G networks, on the other hand, are limited to 6GHz and range from 1GHz to 6GHz. The 3.5GHz frequency is the most common 5G frequency used worldwide.
So, why is it a deal-breaker for chipmakers and smartphone brands? Well, it has been proven that higher frequencies are not always practical and reliable in the real world. Take your broadband router, for example. Most routers offer the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and it is already clear that the former offers a wider range, while the latter has higher speeds, but has problems accessing the wall, resulting in a limited range.
The same applies to two 5G networks. mmWave has tremendous speed and the world is constantly pushing the limitations to achieve faster internet speeds than mmWave. However, it has a limited range that makes it mandatory for users to stay close to and within the area of the mmWave 5G tower.
As expected, the Sub-6GHz, since it has a lower frequency range, is limited in terms of speed, but offers a longer range which makes it more suitable for real-world implementation.
Range is always important because there is no use of speed when no network is available. The sub-6GHz uses the same frequency as the old 4G which results in better coverage.
This is the main reason why chipmaker and smartphone brands usually add both or sub-6GHz 5G network support to their chips or smartphones.