5G and Wi-Fi development – Exposed five common industry myths

5G and Wi-Fi development – Exposed five common industry myths. 5G and Wi-Fi are, in many respects, two sides of the same coin. They are both wireless network protocols based on agreed-upon standards, employ identical technology, and satisfy our connectivity needs.

Their evolutions, however, have been rather distinct. Wi-Fi has long been interwoven in our cultural fabric, aiding business operations, permitting education, and much more. In comparison, 5G has received a lot of attention but has only lately begun to bring a larger range of real-world use cases to reality. For example, there is increasing business interest in private 5G for applications like video analytics and industrial IoT in manufacturing.

These advancements have sparked debate regarding the worth and future of both technologies. And, while some of it is correct, there are still many misunderstandings in the profession. But what is the reality? Let’s look at five of the most popular misconceptions about 5G and WiFi networks.

5G and Wi-Fi development - myths
5G and Wi-Fi development – Exposed five common industry myths

5G and Wi-Fi development – Myths:

#1: They align generationally

This is one of the most popular misconceptions about the two technologies’ development timetables. For example, the wireless sector has lately compared Wi-Fi 6 to 5G, but this is just not a fair comparison when considering their various evolutions. It’s the equivalent of comparing a whole season of one TV show to a single episode of another.

This is because Wi-Fi and 5G evolve at different rates. Wi-Fi has always issued and implemented new standards in three to four-year intervals, so each generation lasts for a few years before the next upgrade arrives.

Cellular has a similar incremental process – known as 3GPP releases – but these updates are bundled together into generational packages known as 4G or 5G that last around a decade.

There is a valid explanation for these opposing viewpoints. Wi-Fi lifecycles are often far more agile, whereas cellular deployment cycles are lengthier and involve more complicated interconnections. As a result, we end up comparing the incorrect things. Rather than comparing Wi-Fi 6 to 5G, it is more realistic to compare it to 3GPP Release 16.

As an industry, we must ensure that we appropriately compare Wi-Fi with 5G. We must coordinate timetables and evaluate these technologies’ development lifecycles rather than merely their delivery dates.

#2: Private 5G and Wi-Fi are always competitors.

This is a bit of a fuzzy issue, and it all boils down to how we see the 5G technology market. 5G may be classified into two categories: macro and micro (or private).

The private space includes everything that’s deployed or operated by enterprises. This market as a whole may eventually become bigger than Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t mean they are always competitors. There are multiple sub-markets here, which include DAS replacement for the neutral host, solutions that replace other legacy approaches to communications and voice, solutions for IoT, fixed wireless access for WWAN, and a number of IT/OT use cases on the enterprise LAN.

The truth is that some applications within certain private 5G sub-markets certainly do compete, whereas others don’t.

#3: 5G must strive to mimic Wi-Fi.

This is another half-truth. People believe that Wi-Fi is used in the workplace, So, 5G must follow suit. However, doing so would imply overlooking cellular’s numerous advantages as a technology that Wi-Fi does not now provide.

For example, it delivers superior coverage per radio, which is partly a function of spectrum regulations and transmits power, but there are also technical elements of cellular as a protocol that improves range beyond Wi-Fi. It also provides benefits in terms of mobility, security, and application determinism.

Of course, Wi-Fi has its distinct advantages, most notably its usability, unlicensed spectrum, LAN integration possibilities, and low cost. Instead of claiming that 5G should be the same as Wi-Fi, we should recognize that they have different strengths. The weaknesses of Wi-Fi (most notably coverage and determinism) seem to be the virtues of 5G.

So, in some respects, 5G should mimic Wi-Fi to acquire momentum in the industry. However, the Wi-Fi industry should evaluate its relative shortcomings when developing Wi-Fi 7, so that it may begin reducing gaps versus 5G’s capabilities (I would focus on better application SLAs and improving roaming).

5G and Wi-Fi development – Myth Convergence:

#4: Convergence is unavoidable.

The wireless sector is paying close attention to the convergence argument. People often say that the two technologies will eventually converge because they’ll both be deployed in the enterprise, driven by a mixture of business opportunities and operational requirements for capabilities like increased resiliency and ubiquitous coverage. because they’ll both be deployed in the enterprise, driven by a mixture of business opportunities and operational requirements for capabilities like increased resiliency and ubiquitous coverage.

This is mostly correct, however, the mistake is generally how they will converge. The experience aspects will converge, especially when private 5G joins the mix of wired and wireless integration. This will cover subjects like the management process, policies, and the platforms (edge and cloud). Private 5G will almost certainly be included in the next generation of open-source software and services from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and other major tech giants. As enterprise-focused partners and system integrators add private 5G expertise and solutions to their portfolios, the route to market will also converge.

The protocols, on the other hand, will not converge. 3GPP and IEEE/Wi-Fi Alliance efforts will not collapse into one. Similarly, many people believe that radio hardware will be an early area of convergence, expecting that we would simply add a 5G radio to Wi-Fi access points. But these technologies use different spectrums, solve different requirements, and deployed in different densities. The addition of radios raises the cost and power draw requirements. It may be a future, but because of these constraints, it is not a near-term reality.

5G and Wi-Fi development – Myth user experience.:

#5: Advertised specifications correspond to user experience.

This is an essential one to remember. The ITU specifies 5G technological criteria, and 3GPP then creates a series of releases to meet those needs. Current ITU targets include, among other things, downlink peak data rate (20 Gbps), uplink peak data rate (10 Gbps), and latency (1ms).

However, in practice, 5G seldom meets these expectations. This is primarily because 3GPP releases specify technological blueprints – that is, how you can supply a given demand, but necessarily how you will offer it – and so products never incorporate all of the features of the releases. As a result, there is sometimes a large gap between the reported specifications of 5G and the real-world experience for any given user.

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