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5G Sub-6 GHz: The Best of Sub-6 vs. mmWave Networks

November 5, 2023

With a question: 5G technology is one of the trendiest subjects at the moment, and because we’re all starting to use it in our everyday lives, we naturally want to know how it operates. Although there is some subtlety in the way you connect to the network, 5G outperforms 4G. Sub-6 and mmWave are the two distinct components of 5G technology. You may be connected to any kind of 5G network coverage when your phone connects to “5G.” However, the one you choose to connect to might significantly alter your 5G experience. These are the fundamentals you need to know to distinguish between mmWave 5G and Sub-6 5G.

What is 5G Sub-6 GHz?

What is 5G Sub-6 GHz?

It is easy to distinguish between mmWave and Sub-6. Take a look at the radio spectrum that the network is using. Sub-6 5G operates at frequencies lower than 6 GHz, which makes sense. This is significant for two reasons: This is the 5G you’re most likely to engage within the next five years, and this is where 4G, 3G, and 2G networks have previously functioned.

Because Sub-6 5G requires just tower improvements, the top 5G carriers have been able to swiftly roll out “nationwide” networks utilizing their current spectrum and towers. All they have to do is modify the towers for 5G, and most of the nation can begin receiving 5G service concurrently with 4G. Additionally, carriers can deliver pretty high output with 5G without sacrificing existing 4G offers because they already own a significant amount of spectrum at these lower frequencies.

Because of all of this, the majority of the time you use 5G over the next few years will be sub-6. Unfortunately, the Sub-6 5G won’t be noticeably better than the 4G you’re used to, at least not for the next few years.

The issue is that Sub-6 networks don’t offer a noticeably superior user experience compared to the most recent 4G networks. That makes sense since, despite being 5G, it still has many of the same limitations as 4G networks. Only slightly quicker and somewhat less latency than 4G networks are Sub-6 5G networks.

Sub-6 offers just a negligible boost in user experience in the so-called “mid-band” frequencies, which fall between 2GHz and 6GHz and are in use by 5G networks but not by 4G networks. Midband 5G has a lot of untapped spectrum, isn’t in direct conflict with current 4G networks, and has some innovative network technologies that can make it a wonderful “Goldilocks” network that strikes a compromise between greater speeds, respectable range, and object avoidance. Every carrier’s overall 5G plan will include bandwidth, as T-Mobile’s “layer cake” approach consistently emphasizes.

What is mmWave 5G?

What is mmWave 5G?

Then there is the millimeter wave, or mmWave, which operates at far higher frequencies, spanning from 30 GHz to 300 GHz. Currently, carriers operate in the 30GHz–40GHz band, although more spectrum up to 48GHz was just made available through government auctions. Beyond that, the 60 GHz band is an uncontrolled spectrum, and extremely specialized point-to-point fixed wireless networks frequently employ frequencies over 70 GHz.

But going back to your phone and mmWave 5G: There is no connection between this brand-new network and the infrastructure or 4G networks that are already in place. This indicates that, in comparison to Sub-6 networks, it has enormous potential but will require a significantly longer deployment time.

Massive data throughput and ultralow latency may be achieved via mmWave 5G networks by utilizing the hitherto untapped spectrum. mmWave is the foundation for all discussions of 3Gbps download rates, 1-millisecond latency, and future real-time communications between gadgets, automobiles, and medical equipment.

mmWave networks have been introduced by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile; nevertheless, the rollout remains sluggish. The extremely high frequencies of mmWave generate significant coverage issues. The radio waves’ travel time decreases with frequency. Thus, a large number of towers are required. It would be inaccurate to refer to them as “towers” since, in contrast to conventional cell towers, they are so-called “small cells” that are hyperlocalized to cover a region as tiny as a single city street in a single direction.

This is required due to the short range of mmWave as well as the fact that any sort of obstruction can significantly affect its performance. A mmWave signal can be blocked by vehicles, windows, trees, and even buildings. Therefore, to offer coverage at all, hundreds of thousands of tiny mmWave cell sites scattered across streets are required. In other words, mmWave isn’t very understanding. This is a fact of life for all carriers.

Rollouts of mmWave are extremely delayed due to these technological obstacles. Even the direction you’re looking can affect whether you receive a signal, even if mmWave 5G is available in some areas of some cities. However, the speeds are astounding when you do receive a signal. Download rates up to 3 Mbps with a latency of only a few milliseconds Furthermore, mmWave has enormous capacity potential, allowing for the simultaneous connection of many devices to a single network without experiencing any service loss. Whatever angle you choose, that is revolutionary.

Verizon and AT&T have decided to distinguish their mmWave networks from their Sub-6 5G networks with a different moniker. AT&T offers 5G+, whereas Verizon offers 5G UWB (Ultra Wideband). Although most of this is incomprehensible, you may use it to find out if your phone is linked to mmWave 5G or Sub-6.

You’ll be using both Sub-6 and mmWave soon enough

The 5G of the future is mmWave, and the 5G of the present is Sub-6. However, it’s not quite that easy. Eventually, we’ll need to combine the utilization of mmWave with Sub-6. Both may be used simultaneously, but they are both good at distinct things: mmWave with speed and density, and Sub-6 with consistency and coverage. Carriers may take advantage of their respective advantages and offer a better overall experience by utilizing both.

The idea is for your phone or any other device to always be linked to a 5G network and capable of effortlessly switching between mmWave and Sub-6 without you ever noticing. You won’t believe how fast it will arrive.


5G technology is a rapidly evolving field with two main components: Sub-6 and mmWave 5G. Sub-6 5G uses frequencies below 6 GHz, which are historically used by 4G, 3G, and 2G networks. The best 5G carriers can deploy “nationwide” networks quickly using their existing towers and spectrum, as Sub-6 5G doesn’t require anything more than tower upgrades. This means that for the next few years, most of the time you’re using 5G, it’ll be Sub-6.

Sub-6 networks don’t provide a dramatically better experience than the latest 4G networks, as they operate under many of the same constraints as the 4G networks before them. However, they can provide relatively high output with 5G without compromising their 4G offerings. The only substantial improvement found with Sub-6 is in the “mid-band” frequencies, between 2GHz and 6GHz, where 4G networks traditionally haven’t operated but 5G can.

mmWave 5G, on the other hand, uses dramatically higher frequencies, ranging between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Carriers currently operate between 30 GHz and 40 GHz, but government auctions have recently released new spectrum up to 48 GHz. mmWave 5G has incredible potential but will take dramatically longer to deploy compared to Sub-6 networks.

Both Sub-6 and mmWave will be used together eventually, as both are good at different things: Sub-6 with consistency and coverage, and mmWave with speed and density. Carriers may make use of their respective advantages and offer a better experience overall by using both.


What is the sub-6 GHz range for 5G?

However, the sub-6GHz 5G networks have a frequency range of 1GHz to 6GHz and are only able to operate at 6GHz. Across the globe, the most often utilized 5G frequency is 3.5 GHz.

Is 5G sub-6 good?

Although sub-6 is far more extensively used than mmWave 5G, it offers much lower performance due in part to its ability to leverage the LTE network’s current infrastructure. As a result, Sub-6 has more coverage and range than mmWave 5G, which will be a strong suit for a variety of IoT applications.

What does 5G sub-6 mean?

This low-band sub-6, or frequency below 6 GHz, works well in rural and long-distance environments. Higher frequencies are intended for highly populated metropolitan areas; this includes the 5G mmWave band.