The arrival of 5G and its present and future boom should not be perceived as a threat to the WiFi ecosystem. Quite the other hand, as the coexistence of both technologies brings a never-before-seen experience for users in all kinds of scenarios, regardless of the complexity of their own physical characteristics or high user density. Let us take a closer look at this relationship and its implications.
5G, a palpable reality around the globe
There is plenty of data that continues to support the idea that 5G is already well established and has a very bright future ahead of it. In fact, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), the number of announced 5G devices increased by 2.9% in April 2022 to 1,373 devices.
Of these, 1040 are commercially available, which translates into 75% of all announced 5G devices. This is an increase of 21.3% from the previous quarter.
On the other hand, the consulting firm EY in a survey of more than a thousand companies worldwide tells us that 56% of participants plan to invest in 5G in the next 3 years, especially in Europe. In addition, 49% of respondents prioritise process optimisation as a key application of this technology.
In addition, 77% are interested in using private networks to support the implementation of 5G use cases. That is, networks where the network infrastructure is used exclusively by devices authorised by the end-user organisation.
Will 5G replace Wi-Fi?
Reading this 5G growth data, it’s a natural question to ask yourself. However, the WiFi industry has nothing to fear from this, quite the opposite. Adoption of WiFi6 is much higher and happening at a faster rate than 5G, with more than 4 billion WiFi6 devices in the market and a forecast to double this figure by next year.
It is a reality that both technologies complement each other perfectly, enhancing their strengths and minimising their weaknesses. All of this crystallises in offering an optimised service for a 5-star user experience, regardless of the complexity of the environment in which they work.
It is often argued that 5G-WiFi6 collaboration is really useful when WiFi is used for indoor and 5G for outdoor scenarios, thus bridging the gap of high quality connectivity between the two scenarios. While this may be the case, we should not forget that this joint work also has a high value when operating simultaneously indoors or outdoors.
5G-WiFi networks: What are the benefits?
Overall, we can say that WiFi6 and 5G bring an improved experience based on lower latency, higher capacity, range and security in all kinds of environments, including the most demanding ones.
These benefits are set out in a WBA document entitled RAN Convergence White Paper, which discusses the convergence between mobile networks and WiFi technology.
It highlights the complementary work it can do to automate roaming, facilitating a smooth transition from a WiFi network to a 5G network or vice versa, without affecting the quality of service or its security, and without the user noticing the change.
On the mobile operators’ side, they will gain greater visibility of their networks, better control over aspects of the user experience and offer better services to users.
For WiFi operators, they will also gain visibility for their networks and improve their customers’ experience by having the ability to access 5G services provided by the operator.
The same WBA document outlines the main opportunities offered by WiFi-5G coordination for various professional sectors, among which the following stand out:
- Business Wi-Fi to provide internet access to employees, external workers and visitors.
- Industry 4.0, with a significant amount of data that needs to be processed as quickly as possible, so connection speed is key in these cases.
- Connected cities where inhabitants and visitors have access to the network through an adequate WiFi – 5G infrastructure.
- Connectivity in the home for the increasing number of mobile and fixed devices present in the home
It is also worth highlighting the role of Wi-Fi Passpoint, one of the advantages of which is that users can switch from 5G networks to WiFi and vice versa without any outages, known as offloading.
As you can see, there is no threat to the WiFi sector with the growth of 5G networks in all types of environments. As a result, users will enjoy an experience based on speed, robustness, low latency and high data throughput, which is applicable indoors, outdoors, for 5G networks of telecom operators and for private networks.
Regarding the latter and its potential together with WiFi, if you want to know more details about its use and qualities, we encourage you to take a look at this webinar that we gave with our partner Neutroon. In this link you will find more information, as well as the download form for the recording.