How do LTE/5G & WiFi Relate?
One of the key industry questions at the moment is can the wireless technologies, LTE/5G and Wi-Fi, work together or are they competitors? Whether the mobile cellular network will replace Wi-Fi has been a discussion since the advent of 3G and early Wi-Fi. The answer is that there is no perfect wireless technology for all use cases. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages and has unique use case value. Wi-Fi and 5G are different, but the end customers do not care about these differences. Most importantly, one technology will not replace the other and they can co-exist and actually add value to one another. The two technologies will continue to complement each other.
Similar but Different
5G and Wi-Fi 6 have many differences but also have lots of similarities both in their standards and specifications. Wi-Fi 6 seems capable of being as successful as a LAN technology and 5G is expected to realize success as a WAN technology. However, the industry consensus is that 5G will not replace Wi-Fi 6 as the connectivity technology of choice at the device level. Many industry experts believe that Wi-Fi will coexist with 5G and be a key part of many 5G use cases. The key is to match the correct connectivity technology with the end use case or customer challenge. For example if you need a network to support automation so need low latency, an ultra secure and reliable network with lots of bandwidth then 5G is best but if you need non mission or time critical data device connectivity then WiFi would be more suitable.
There is real potential for the convergence of the two technologies into a single radio network backbone for campus, office, business venues etc. This is not to say that we will see lots of combined LTE/5G/WiFi access points as LTE/5G has greater coverage capability and therefore less access points are needed.
WiFi & 5G in Harmony
As a leading provider of private mobile networks, FTTP and Wi-Fi EMS is already exploring the opportunities with our end customers of the above and thus are well placed to satisfy industry vertical connectivity needs whether this is Wi-Fi, 5G or both and take a share of the £20bn LTE/5G private mobile network market (Ericsson). Unfortunately, EMS is not alone in recognising the values of both markets and there are already examples of other companies that now offer both Wi-Fi and 5G. OFCOM has made spectrum available for any third party to access at a very low cost and there is already an ecosystem of device and radio vendors that means EMS can help organisations across multiple verticals with deployments of LTE/5G private mobile networks.
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