Organizations adopting next-generation wireless technologies (5G, WiFi 6) strongly believe it is a foundation for transforming their enterprises and industries. It can unlock the power of other emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and edge computing.
Having entered the market at a similar time, WiFi 6 and 5G have similar capabilities as viable alternatives. They also have different, complementary strengths. Both technologies enable lower latency, higher speed, support more devices and improve network performance. They differ in the areas such as range, support for mobility, and cost. WiFi 6 is best suited for cases requiring high speed and best-effort traffic. In critical use cases requiring high reliability, low-latency connectivity wide-area deployment, 5G is the best fit since WiFi operates on an unlicensed spectrum. Hence, reliability and availability cannot be guaranteed.
WiFi 6 and 5G are designed to work together smoothly, unlike the earlier generation of wireless networks. Thanks to the industry associations and standards bodies co-developing future network standards that will enable the convergence of cellular and non-cellular technologies, permitting the integration of WiFi 6 into core 5G networks.
WiFi 6 can support up to 12 simultaneous user streams from a single WiFi access point, 8×8 multiuser MIMO for uplink and downlink. WiFi remains popular, providing last-hop access to wireless devices in people’s homes and offices for non-critical use cases. 5G, on the other hand, has given a boost to cellular communication by leveraging a wide frequency range with huge bandwidths, thus supporting both the wide-area and indoor connectivity needs of consumers and enterprises.
Though WiFi 6 and 5G play an equal role in building solutions, few studies reveal that enterprise WiFi 6 pilots and deployments are outpacing 5G in many countries. One primary reason is cost, as WiFi 6 devices are more affordable and widely available than 5G devices. WiFi 6 uses a free, unlicensed spectrum that could be acquired easily, whereas 5G requires enterprises to license spectrum from network providers or government entities which poses a problem for acquiring a suitable spectrum in a few countries.
Mobile Network Operators gain significantly from the interoperability of Wi-Fi and 5G technologies by allowing them to market their services more effectively and improve the Quality of Experience they offer. It also permits WiFi operators to use 5G cellular services to fill in any connectivity gaps in the fixed networks. Interoperability plays a vital role in realizing “smart cities” wherein instead of users having to constantly reconnect and enter their details as they roam from hotspot to hotspot, pass point-enabled technology such as Open Roaming can ensure a more seamless and frictionless transition as people move around a town or city.
Integration of Wi-Fi and 5G technologies will undoubtedly come with its unique challenges, but the potential advantages of convergence outweigh any short-term difficulties. Most of the challenges are already being addressed as businesses are beginning to realize that to achieve true global connectivity and action, convergence is an essential point to progress instead of seeing WiFi and 5G technologies as competitors trying to replace one with the other.
Industry-leading digital network aggregator STL’s dWiFi, is at the forefront of providing Wi-Fi-based solutions. Keeping in view the market demands on how operators can benefit and monetize using Wi-Fi, STL has innovated a game-changing Wi-Fi monetization solution to address the need along with end-to-end 5G monetization. Operators can seize the opportunity and deploy Wi-Fi-based solutions with the help of STL’s experienced team. STL was also a proud platinum sponsor at the recent Wireless Global Congress, 2022 held in Dubai with the theme ”Wi-Fi revolution driving digital growth.
Check out more about STL’s award-winning next-gen Wi-Fi solution or register for a free demo now.