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Kiwi mobile users see nearly five times faster speeds on 5G than on Wifi

By Shannon Williams, Fri 10 Dec 2021

New Zealand mobile users are seeing nearly five times faster speeds on 5G than on Wifi, a new report from Opensignal has revealed.

While 5G has been live in New Zealand since December 2019, users have not been as mobile as usual because the majority of the 5G era has coincided with the pandemic. Kiwis have been relying on Wifi more than normal, especially at home. 

However, the new Opensignal analysis shows that smartphone users see much faster speeds connected to 5G than when using Wifi. And, for multiplayer mobile gaming 5G is on par with Wifi, unlike older 4G which was noticeably inferior to Wifi.

While smartphone users’ Wifi speeds were on average 8.7 Mbps (20.7%) faster than those seen on 4G, 5G speeds were 190.2 Mbps faster than the average speeds of 50.5 Mbps when connected to Wifi. Kiwi smartphone users clocked up 240.7 Mbps for 5G Download Speed — 4.8 times and 5.7 times faster than the average speeds seen when connected to Wifi or 4G, respectively.

The report shows smartphone users in New Zealand have a good games experience on Wifi and 5G, but not on 4G

Kiwi users saw no statistically significant difference in their experience when playing multiplayer mobile games on smartphones when on Wifi or when connected to 5G, with scores of 77.5 and 79.9 points for Games Experience on a 100 point scale, respectively.

When using either Wifi or 5G, our users’ typical experience when playing multiplayer mobile games on smartphones was Good (75<85). This means that the gameplay experience was generally controllable and the user received immediate feedback between their actions and the outcomes in the game. Most users did not experience a delay between their actions and the game.

The arrival of 5G means that Wifi is no longer always superior to cellular, according to the research.

Although average 5G download speeds are faster than Wifi and 5G gaming is on a par, Wifi will continue to have an important role — especially when backing up files and downloading large apps due to the low cost of data it provides compared to many mobile plans. Also, 5G services need to expand considerably because in the majority of locations only 4G is available. 

According to Opensignal, as restrictions start to ease in Auckland users will increasingly be mobile again, and will rely more on 4G and 5G services. Additionally, the quality of the 5G experience shows that 5G has the potential to offer better connectivity inside homes, shops, offices and other locations where Wifi is available. And, if lockdowns do return, 5G will make cellular services more relevant — for example as a fixed wireless solution.

While Wifi is improving due to growing adoption of WiFi 6 (802.11ax), the Wifi experience is often bottlenecked by the fixed broadband connection that Wifi acts as the front-end for, Opensignal says. 

It is often faster and less expensive for operators to invest in their mobile networks and improve the user experience, than it is to lay new fibre to upgrade fixed broadband across a country — especially in one with large rural areas like New Zealand.

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