Wi-Fi 6 is now nearly carrier-grade and will be vital in a converged 5G platform
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Chris Bruce, Managing Director, GlobalReach Technology
Asked if Wi-Fi has a part to play in the 5G era, Chris Bruce, MD of GlobalReach Technology, says that it "absolutely does", adding that to understand the future role of Wi-Fi it is necessary to distinguish between 5G New Radio (5G NR) and the overarching concept of 5G as a global comms technology. He explains that the cellular world, which began life to provide voice services, has evolved to become increasingly data-centric. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi, which was constrained in coverage small cell and best effort-based connectivity but was data-centric from the very outset, has become more and more carrier grade as it has matured. It is now much more secure and reliable and in its latest iteration, Wi-Fi 6, is very close indeed to being a bona fide carrier-grade radio technology.
In the future, wherein the management of the new network where hardware and software functionality are split, the concept of network slicing comes into play and it will be applied to draw-in different technologies that will be most appropriate to particular use cases - and that is where Wi-Fi has a fundamental role to play.
Chris Bruce says that, when they are superimposed one on the other, the target specifications and diverse use cases for Wi-Fi 6 drawn up by the IEEE and those drawn up by the 3GPP for 5G NR are strikingly similar. It's not that one technology is necessarily better than the other but that, from an operator's point of view, in particular use case scenarios one or other provides an optimum user experience at a reasonable cost. Thus, different use cases require the application of different technologies and there is absolutely no reason why Wi-Fi cannot become an important slice in a converged 5G Wi-Fi platform.
Filmed at Wireless Global Congress, London 2018
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