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WiFi vs. Cellular Connectivity: The Differences Between Each

We currently work in an age where we have access to almost anything on-demand. We are no longer restricted to desks limited by cord-connected wall outlets. The mobility we receive from laptops, smartphones, tablets, and wearables allows us to literally “cut the cord” for a more productive working environment.

WiFi and Cellular data have been the communication norm for awhile. But how do they differ when both connections meet the same needs?


Spectrum is one prime difference between these two connection types. Traditional WiFi is connected using the unshared and unlicensed spectrum of 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. However, cellular connectivity on licensed spectrums leased by cellular carriers permits network customer access only.


WiFi connects to a router, which in a commercial setting is then managed by an enterprise-level IT department. Residential environments are typically handled by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Cellular data doesn’t require connection to any hardware equipment. Instead, it connects directly to the carrier’s network, provided the device is within the macro cellular network coverage area.


In the enterprise environment, WiFi coverage is augmented by strategically placing and spreading “boosters” across the facility. However—even with this addition—coverage can still be limited. With carrier-based macro coverage, cellular network connections are accessible everywhere .


WiFi generally provides appropriate network security. However, this is largely dependent on the router model, settings, and management. When monitored by an in-house IT department, enterprise WiFi can be even more secure than cellular connections. However, unencrypted public WiFi accessed in areas such as coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and other public spaces can jeopardize privacy and security

Understanding WiFi vs. Cellular Connectivity Types

Both WiFi and cellular aren't distinct. In fact, they’re stronger together, especially with the increasing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart buildings, and others. Therefore, it’s pivotal for everyone to work together toward omnipresent connectivity.

While the expectation of IoT leading network carriers toward strengthening macro networks, this will further 5G's popularity in more public spaces. Building owners, property managers, and businesses will therefore need to adjust and upgrade in-building wireless connections. This will be the norm going forward.

With a highly mobile and highly connected world, most consumers own more than an average of four devices. A solid network backbone on the macro environment, and a sturdy in-building wireless on the micro level, is a necessity. Whether it is DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems), Small Cells, or Enterprise WiFi, these connections must be based on strength and speed.

Learn more about each below:

  • DAS: Generally the most costly in-building wireless option, it is also the strongest. This technology-agnostic solution can handle multiple frequencies.
  • Small Cells: These low-powered, operator-controlled access nodes work in both licensed and unlicensed spectrums.
  • Enterprise WiFi: Operating in the unlicensed spectrum, this connection is known to be data-centric. Some carriers have attempted offering Voice over WiFi, however it's not been proven for real-time, mission-critical applications. This also applies to the Quality of Service (QoS) standard required for this type.

Regardless of which option you decide, any within this technology trio will undoubtedly lead toward augmenting the next generation of in-building wireless connections.

Airtower Networks provides customized solutions such as cellular, managed WiFi, private LTE, and more for seamless in-building connectivity, enhanced productivity, and a competitive bottom line. Connect with us today to commence your wireless networking journey!