The objective of this weblog is easy: to arm chief data officers (CIOs) and different community professionals with fast and simple speaking factors to assume and communicate intelligently about enterprise Wi-Fi and 5G.
Speaking Level #1: Wi-Fi and 5G are concurrently complementary, aggressive, and convergent.
Non-public mobile is appropriate for vast areas, outside areas, industrial units, and mobility. Whereas, Wi-Fi is usually finest fitted to indoor and small outside areas, particularly for prime density, bulk information, and ubiquitous gadget help. There exists a gray space in between the place each applied sciences will match.
After I use the phrase “convergence” on this context, I don’t imply the 2 will change into one. As an alternative, I consider the expertise of managing and working each wi-fi applied sciences will change into extra related and unified over time. Beneath are some false narratives and the way we should always seize and reframe the pseudo-truths in each.
Speaking Level #2: Enterprise Ethernet and Wi-Fi will stay ubiquitous, whereas 5G fills gaps
Non-public 5G might be a “hotspot” answer for particular areas, functions, and use circumstances for at the least the following 5 years. Wi-Fi is just too ubiquitous and too low cost to exchange.
There are particular verticals the place personal mobile actually shines, like power & utilities, transportation, agriculture, and mining, however Wi-Fi continues to be wanted in every single place else. So for many environments, the query just isn’t “which expertise ought to I select,” however as an alternative “do I want so as to add 5G to complement my present Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking infrastructure.”
Speaking Level #3: Wi-Fi Retains Profitable Due to Value
Don’t deal with radios and administration and cloud license prices. Some vendor packaging will come round and drive down the price of 5G infrastructure to make it comparable sufficient to Wi-Fi. Focus as an alternative on units.
Consumerization drives units from customers into enterprises. Because the consumer gadget mobile chips and radio elements are far dearer than Wi-Fi, client gadget makers are extra probably to decide on BLE and Wi-Fi over 5G to enhance pricing, market acceptance, and margins. 5G prices will lower over time, however not sufficient. And by then, we’re speaking about 6G, and Wi-Fi continues to be ubiquitous.
Speaking Level #4: We Want Many Spectrum Choices… One Dimension Does Not Match All
Unlicensed spectrum is a bit like open-source software program. They’re each low price and accessible, which drives adoption. Ultimately unlicensed wi-fi, like open-source software program, is embedded in all the pieces. As soon as it turns into common, it is rather tough to displace, and thus, rating one for unlicensed Wi-Fi.
Conversely, mobile is dependable and predictable largely due to the protections afforded by spectrum licenses. However, spectrum licenses are restricted to deep-pocketed cellular operators able to wielding that spectrum energy to supply dependable providers to enterprises—rating one for licensed mobile.
A reliable wild card is personal/native licensing approaches like Residents Broadband Radio Service
(CBRS). It will not be sufficient spectrum to resolve all of your wi-fi issues, however it’s definitely sufficient to open new “hotspot” options to enterprises fighting the vary, determinism, or mobility shortcomings of Wi-Fi for particular units and functions. Rating one for locally-licensed mobile (the place accessible).
Speaking Level #5: Keep away from Evaluating Wi-Fi 6 with 5G
We’ve fallen into an apples-to-oranges comparability by pitting Wi-Fi 6 in opposition to 5G. Individuals want to know that 5G is a decade-long expertise rollout with at the least a 20-year lifecycle. Don’t make the error of pitting the longer-term mannequin of mobile and 5G in opposition to the shorter-term evolution and lifecycle of Wi-Fi 6, which might be up to date in a few years by Wi-Fi 7, then Wi-Fi 8, and so forth throughout the for much longer 5G period. 5G is extra huge and complete in its end-to-end scope, however Wi-Fi is extra agile and adaptive with extra frequent evolution cycles.
Speaking Level #6: Your Community Groups Will Want Extra Coaching
Many community professionals began with routing, switching, and Wi-Fi, and people expertise are helpful. However there are numerous points of mobile that require extra coaching for enterprise community people. The frequencies and laws are completely different; visibility, troubleshooting, and evaluation instruments are completely different; the lexicon is completely different; coverage and gadget authentication are completely different; and so many components of the expertise stack are completely different. And even for the mobile business, the standard stack used to deploy macro public networks are additionally altering since that mannequin doesn’t essentially work nicely for personal networks.
Remember the fact that this whole mobile expertise stack is new for enterprises. The business can also be in flux, so everyone seems to be on a studying curve on the identical time. Nonetheless, there are way more educated Wi-Fi professionals than 5G networking professionals, so there’s a severe expertise hole that must be crammed earlier than 5G turns into a manageable and ubiquitous enterprise choice.
Speaking Level #7: There’s an excessive amount of hype. Take a chill tablet.
Lastly, there’s a lot cash at stake in mobile generational shifts that we’ve got washed away in advertising and marketing. It’s tough to know what to really consider. Listed here are some counter-hype sedatives:
- The killer use circumstances that demand personal 5G (as an alternative of LTE) are nonetheless largely undiscovered.
- 5G is comprised of many 3GPP releases that may are available phases over the following decade. Most personal mobile radios (particularly CBRS) use LTE nonetheless, not 5G; 5G radios received’t be accessible till at the least mid-2022, with 5G options trickling in over the next years. We’re within the early days.
- Many 5G options are for cellular operators and macro networks, not personal enterprises.
- Wi-Fi has weaknesses and we’ve got firsthand deployment scars, however personal 5G is not going to be a cure-all for enterprise wi-fi connectivity. Maybe this idiom applies: higher the satan you recognize than the satan you don’t know.
The 5G image painted by advertising and marketing just isn’t the 5G of actuality. Align your expectations accordingly.
So, there you’ve got it. A handful of speaking factors that may steer your inner conversations and views on wi-fi co-existence, competitors, and convergence. Nonetheless have to arm your self for these conversations? You possibly can obtain a pocket-guide abstract of all these speaking factors:
And in order for you a deeper dive, I wrote a 5-part sequence on this matter (hyperlinks under). Lastly, we’d like to work together on this matter—join with our Office of the CTO on LinkedIn.