5G V.S. 5GHZ: What’s the Difference?

Ever since 5G started buzzing around as the latest improvement mobile phone companies were offering, there has been a lot of confusion about whether or not 5G is just short for 5GHZ or if they are two different things entirely. Are they the same? Are they different? If so, then what’s the difference?

5G and 5GHZ are two separate terms where “5GHZ” refers to the frequency of 5 giga-hertz while “5G” is short for “fifth generation,” a term used by mobile networks to label the latest network update. While 5G can encompass 5GHZ in its range of frequencies, phone networks do not have 5GHZ in their ranges.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at these two terms to explore what they mean, what they’re for, and how the confusion between the two probably started.

Do “5G” and “5GHZ” Mean Different Things?

Since 5g and 5GHZ are two terms often used synonymously, the first thing to clarify whether 5G and 5GHZ are the same or two different things entirely is to know what “5G” and “5GHZ” both mean. Let’s start with “5G.”

5G

“5G” is very easily explained because all it means is “fifth generation.” Now the question is, the fifth generation of what? Well, “generations” it’s a term used by all network provider companies. You might have noticed that in their commercials, they’ve boasted of the benefits of “3G,” then “4G,” and now “5G.” Each generation of networks has gotten better and faster than the one before it, but a new generation doesn’t just mean more speed or more data; they also come with other recent developments in mobile communication.

5G vs 5GHZ

When cell phones first came out after 1979, they could only make phone calls and weighed and looked like bricks. This was the first generation of mobile networking or 1G. After its initial instalment, plenty of issues were discovered with 1G, such as suddenly dropping the cell coverage or having other radio signals interfere.

A decade later, 1G was replaced by 2G. The new generation switched from analogue to digital signals, improving the network’s security and capacity. This was followed by the third generation of networking (3G), which was the one that first allowed mobile phone users to share files, play online games, and watch shows.

Now 5G is rolling out, and it promises to change, once again, how we use our cell phones, how much we use our cell phones and increase the capacity for the use of other objects fitted with sensors and software known as the Internet of Things (IoT). One example would be modern cars. 5G carries so much more data than the other generations.

5GHZ

Now we reach the complicated one, and the best way to describe what it means is to take apart the term piece by piece. The “HZ” part stands for “hertz.” A hertz is a unit of measurement that measures frequency, which is gauged through cycles per second. The cycle we’re referring to is the rotation of radio waves (specifically the sine wave) between a negative charge and a positive charge, which repeats continuously. 

The “G” doesn’t mean “generation” in this case, but the prefix unit of measurement “giga.” A giga stands for one billion, or 10 to the 9th power, so a giga-hertz means a billion cycles happen per second. Finally, the five at the front means five billion cycles per second.

Although these two terms are entirely different, they are connected by their functions.

We’ve established that “generations” basically refer to the most recent network, and for a network to function, it requires a Wi-Fi connection. Why does this matter? Because Wi-Fi systems operate in hertz ranges, just like your grandfather’s antenna radio did. The difference now is that the antenna is on the router today.

Each generation from telecom companies took a particular range on the frequency spectrum. For example, the 4G band ranges between 5MHZ (megahertz) and 20MHZ. Each company was sold the rights to use these ranges, making it illegal for others to broadcast within the ranges occupied by each generation or by TETRA, the emergency communications service which operates at 395MHZ.

So, if each generation operates on a specific frequency spectrum range, the generations “band,” does 5G operate at 5GHZ?  Not really.

For instance, Verizon’s 5G network will typically operate between 28-39GHZ. In comparison, T-mobile has band options for 5G, an extended range of 5G with a low-band 600MHZ signal, and an ultra capacity of 5G on the mid and high-band spectrum of 80MHZ – 2.5GHZ. So even as far as where network generations and hertz are related, there is no connection between 5G and 5GHZ.

How Did 5G and 5GHZ Become so Confusing?

Despite being so different, there must be a reason we confuse these two terms so often, besides the fact that they both include “5G.” Well, it looks like the culprits are the Wi-Fi router manufacturers who label their 5GHZ Wi-Fi as 5G as a form of short technical script. How twisted.

There’s also the added confusion that your bandwidth will be measured in hertz so that you can be told 5GHZ, and it has nothing to do with the frequency. AND! The data you use or still have on your plan is measured in gigabytes, which means you might see 5GB. Without distinguishing what each term means, you can get lost pretty quickly. So long as it makes sense to someone, it’s okay.

A Final Word

So now you know that 5G and 5GHZ are two entirely different terms 98% of the time. The next time your friends and family talk about 5G, you’ll probably have the best idea of what it is in the group. If you have other technology-related questions, this is your chance to ask your question in the comment section below so that we can answer them later. Stay tech savvy!

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About Mike Herrera

Mike is a freelance journalist who specializes in writing about technology. He has a degree in computer science, and he likes to stay up-to-date on the latest software releases. He's an avid reader, and he enjoys spending time outdoors. When he's not working, you can usually find him playing video games or exploring new hiking trails.

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