Wi-Fi vs 5G

There is a lot of hype going around 5G since its announced, there is discussion going on social media whether 5G is going to impact Wi-Fi. The 5G standard promises mobile connectivity at high speed. Theoretically it can give faster and better user experience.

So, I decided to write what I think about this whole situation. Whether 5G will take over Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi will just disappear or 5G will improve performance and will work alongside Wi-Fi?

I think we must see this from practicality point of view. Theoretically it might be possible to give every device high speed connection, but question is whether it is practical at this point in May 2019. There are few questions to be answered…

  1. Do we even see wireless carriers or telecommunication company’s intention to provide 5G coverage everywhere?
  2. How about the cost, Enterprise environments where 100’s of devices are connected to Wireless LAN ?.
  3. 5G RF physical limitations.

“Some of this is physics – millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments”. link

Now suppose service providers have intention to provide 5G everywhere to replace WiFi. In today’s date service providers even struggling to provide 3G and 4G in your houses and multi floors buildings. Now imagine how much investment will be needed to provide 5G service everywhere and let huge number of devices to connect to 5G on the cellular network.

This seems impossible at least at present.

I have mentioned cost to end user above. I believe cost will be high for 5G usage or there will be some sort of restriction that how much speed you get depends on your package. This would be another reason for enterprise environments not to use 5G. Once Wi-Fi is up and running and if you are managing yourself you are not paying any additional cost except maintenance.

Secondly WiFi is getting faster, better and efficient with every 802.11 amendment. 802.11 ax amendment is bringing efficiency to WLAN and there is no logically reason to replace WiFi with 5G.

Wi-Fi Growth:

According to marketandmarket report the global Wi-Fi market worth will be 33.6 billion by 2020. Every new device coming out is with better Wi-Fi capability and without Ethernet ports. Mostly devices are Wi-Fi dependent whether its home or enterprise so that’s another reason for 5G not be adapted completely by every device.

Private Networks:

Still there is no indication that how 5G going to address private networks. Every home and every enterprise environment have its own private network or networks.

Coexistence:

Only option I see is coexistence of both technologies. Ericson and cisco announced evolved Wi-Fi. They announced that they are combining Ericson cellular access and core products with cisco wireless LAN.

Cisco also announced OpenRoaming which allows mobile users to automatically and seamlessly roam across Wi-Fi and cellular network including Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 ax) and 5G. This is achieved through collective of industry partners such as Samsung and Cisco.

These news only suggest that both technologies are here to coexist instead competing.

References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/the-5g-status-quo-is-clearly-not-good-enough

https://www.macrumors.com/2019/04/24/att-5g-plans-tiered-priced-on-data-speed/

https://www.macrumors.com/2019/04/16/apple-qualcomm-chips-5g-iphones-2020/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/qa-ericsson-cto-5g-standards-wifi-angle-connected-ca/2017/01/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/ericsson-cisco-tout-evolved-wifi/2017/01/

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