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WiFi Vs Private 5G

Wi-Fi vs 5G: the difference Private 5G brings to Industrial and commercial environments

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Higher network capacity, lower latency, high data volumes, better security…at this point, most of us have some understanding of what – in theory – a Private 5G connection offers to organisations. But what can do it in practice? What is the tangible impact that Private 5G adoption will have on our factories, our hospitals, our classrooms, our industrial premises?

Here, we look at the key differences between a commercial environment that runs on Wi-Fi and one that’s powered by 5G, focussing on three key areas: robotics and heavy machinery; AR/VR; and IoT and Automation.

Robotics and heavy machinery


Robotics and automated heavy machinery are core components of industry 4.0, offering more intelligent automation, smarter processes and data-driven operations. Yet Wi-Fi connections aren’t designed to support the large volumes of data transmission required to power robotics effectively. 

  • Wi-Fi bandwidth isn’t enough to support complex data-powered robotics and machinery, resulting in the need for wired connections that reduce flexibility. 
  • High latency reduces reaction times, preventing more versatile use of robotics and machinery such as teleoperations, flexible data-driven robotic processes or fully-autonomous Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs).
  • Poor security means that cyber criminals only need the SSID (network name) and password to enter the network and disrupt machinery.
  • Limited range reduces mobility for moving devices.
  • If indoor-outdoor coverage is needed (to operate AGVs for example), interference and unreliability can disrupt operations as machinery transition to external environments, such as loading bays.

Private 5G

Private 5G enables the application of more autonomous robotics and machinery, with higher network capability and low latency enabling data-driven actions and seamless robotic integrations.

  • By eradicating the need for wired connections to robots and heavy machinery, industrial environments can become more agile, with changes to location, performance and directives made easier.
  • With significantly increased network capacity, robots and heavy machinery like AGVs can utilise a variety of sensors, both on-board and external, to navigate and adapt to tasks.
  • Higher built-in security means that less additional security measures are needed.
  • Better range - both indoors and outside - enables more seamless mobility around the premises.
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AR/VR experiences


We’re already seeing AR and VR being incorporated into workplaces in a range of sectors, with applications in sales, customer experience, factory planning and warehouse management. However, its scope for widespread adoption, particularly in industrial applications, is limited by poor internet connection. 

  • The lag created by Wi-Fi latency prevents demonstrations or experiences from happening in ‘real time’. Wi-Fi users can expect a delay of up to 50 milliseconds depending on distance from the router and other interferences such as walls and furnishings.
  • Limited data transmission volumes and speed mean that AR and VR visualisations are often inconsistent and slow.
  • Networks are unable to cope with multiple AR and VR users simultaneously, particularly for more intensive uses like training, immersive experiences and interactive guidance.

Private 5G

Private 5G offers a more flexible, reliable and consistent connection when using AR or VR technology in the workplace, whether it's to demonstrate new products or to bring digital planning to life.

  • Latency is as low as 1 millisecond, meaning that connections suffer virtually no lag.
  • 5G can deliver up to 20 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) peak data rates and 100+ Megabits-per-second (Mbps) average data rates, for smoother streaming and clearer visuals.
  • Higher network capacity can support demand from a larger number of devices, allowing more widespread adoption of the technology throughout the workplace. 

IoT and automation 


IoT and automation may already be widely used in manufacturing and logistics, but there are limitations to what the technology can achieve when paired with unreliable or low-speed connectivity. As a result, uptake for a range of use-cases is being held back and preventing digitisation across a variety of sectors. 

  • IoT devices present Wi-Fi security vulnerabilities, exposing networks to unauthorised access.
  • IoT devices can interfere with Wi-Fi networks, causing disruption to network connections. 
  • Networks are unable to cope with high volumes of IoT or automation devices running at once: they require their own separate network or hard-wired connection to operate effectively.
  • Automation has limited flexibility as a result of unreliable, inconsistent connection or wired networks: with safety and efficiency risks preventing full realisation of its potential.

Private 5G

With low latency, higher network capacity and larger data transmission capabilities, Private 5G allows organisations to explore more widespread use of IoT and automation. 

  • IoT devices can be used for a variety of tasks – from employee health monitoring to energy efficiency measures to security and surveillance.
  • More flexibility is afforded to automation, with 5G offering faster reaction speeds to enable mission-critical actions and removing the need for wired connections.

Discover how Private 5G is already transforming organisations in your sector: join us on November 25th 2021 at 13:00 – 14:00 GMT for our joint webinar with Nokia discussing the benefits of Private 5G in your sector. Register today for the Private 5G Masterclass: The what, the why and the how.

Contact the team to discover how UCtel can improve your digital connectivity and communications.

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