In a new white paper developed by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance, the partners have looked at how 5G and Wi-Fi intersect and converge in IoT executions. Developed with input from mobile carriers, telecom equipment manufacturers and Wi-Fi advocates, the white paper explores the importance of existing and future Wi-Fi and cellular convergence, highlighting techniques that enable convergence and identifying solutions to bridge technology gaps.
According to the paper’s findings, mobile operators will benefit from the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G by gaining improved visibility into Wi-Fi networks, reportedly affording them the ability to control customer experience, deliver better services to customers and provide enterprise Wi-Fi network management solutions to enterprise customers. Wi-Fi operators, meanwhile, will benefit from convergence by gaining improved visibility and transition management as they operate overlapping cellular and Wi-Fi networks, ultimately resulting in an improved user experience. Additionally, enterprise Wi-Fi networks will gain the ability to access operator-provided 5G services.
The paper also identifies prospective new business opportunities created through the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G at the network and RAN layers, including enterprise use cases, manufacturing, public hotspots and residential applications. Some of the key use cases covered in the paper include:
Factories of the Future: The paper provides a deployment scenario for a manufacturing environment in which the convergence of 5G NR and Wi-Fi are used to provide improved connectivity, traffic routing and support for Wi-Fi devices with and without identity credentials.
Smart Cities: The paper includes two scenarios that illustrate how the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G will enable enterprises and cities to create contiguous Wi-Fi access through the use of public hotspots.
The paper concludes that a new set of 5G use cases and verticals may require combined resources from both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. This reportedly will provide cost-effective solutions that meet diverse sets of requirements on throughput, latency, connection density, coverage, availability and reliability.
“Mobile and Wi-Fi operators, equipment manufacturers and end users all stand to benefit a great deal from the continued convergence of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, especially with the release of Wi-Fi 6 later this year and the continued development of 5G networks,” said Tiago Rodrigues, General Manager, WBA. “As the paper highlights, convergence of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in the RAN is vital for 5G coverage in dense locations and indoor deployments, giving stakeholders the ability to cost effectively improve performance, while ultimately improving return on investment (ROI) for mobile operators.”
“The work we’ve done with WBA to identify new use cases and challenges in the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G is beneficial for operators, vendors and end users,” said Peter Meissner, CEO, NGMN Alliance . “It is through initiatives like this one that our industry solves important issues and ensures the success of technologies for the future.”
Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.
Edited by Ken Briodagh