The 5G standard promises to embody a mobile-connectivity revolution, providing enhanced broadband connectivity and speed for a wide swath of customers. As we approach that future, an increasing number of people are debating whether the 5G standard will replace WiFi — through the sheer force of its strength and ubiquity — or otherwise cause problems with WiFi networks.
This 5G WiFi debate depends on the supposition that the two technologies will somehow merge onto the same track as the industry coalescences into next-gen communications. But in reality, many experts believe that 5G and WiFi will continue along their current, differentiated paths for the foreseeable future.
With 5G, WiFi Isn’t Going Anywhere
There are many reasons why 5G will continue the 4G interoperability methodology. First, from a consumer point of view, billions of existing and forthcoming WiFi-only devices such as tablets, entertainment systems, and computer peripherals will not be going anywhere soon. As for business cases, enterprises will continue to value the availability of WiFi connections as part of a multi-connectivity scenario for services such as Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN).
Here are some other reasons by WiFi will continue to thrive even with the launch of 5G:
- The Wi-Fi market is growing, not shrinking. According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global WiFi market will be worth 33.6 billion by 2020. WiFi traffic, from both mobile and WiFi-only devices, will account for more than 50 percent of total IP traffic by that time.
- WiFi understands dense deployments. The 5G future is dense. Grids will be composed of small cells and ubiquitous antenna to enhance capacity and coverage—a scenario that WiFi already understands.
5G WiFi Coexistence
WiFi will likely coexist with 5G, and be a key part of many 5G use cases.
Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson recently spoke with SDxCentral about the concept of Evolved WiFi—the notion that because majority of wireless traffic is on WiFi, WiFi must evolve to accommodate the 5G future. “We need to embrace unlicensed spectrum,” he said. “We do have an eye toward evolving Evolved WiFi to 5G and making 5G part of the WiFi world.” Through the company’s partnership with Cisco, Ericsson has committed to providing WiFi solutions of the highest quality performance and reliability.