This is an excerpt from our white paper Wi-Fi in the 5G Era – Strategy Guide for Operators. If you like what you read, the full white paper is available here. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR WI-FI ASSETS
As approximately 80 percent of wireless data traffic is consumed indoors, 5G will drive an unprecedented need for densification of base stations and indoor solutions. The only reasonable conclusion is that operators must use all technologies and spectra available to satisfy their subscribers’ insatiable demand for data.
Aptilo believes that Wi-Fi is the perfect complement to 5G for indoor coverage. Wi-Fi is also an essentially untapped resource that many operators are working with already and thus have at their disposal. This is of course especially the case among operators whose current organizational structures are a result of mergers between fixed and mobile service providers.
Regretfully it is still often the case that staff responsible for fixed and mobile services continue to work in separate organizational departments or ‘silos’. For example: While mobile teams deploy indoor cellular solutions at a venue such as a shopping mall, the fixed services team has already been to the same location to deploy Wi-Fi.
To win in a fiercely competitive market such disparate departments should instead come together with the single goal of delivering the absolute best subscriber experience using both technologies. Operators just have to add a secure SSID (802.1x) to deliver an automatic and secure onboarding of their subscribers to their B2B footprint. Using the new captive portal API with venue URL, operators can still deliver user engagement to their revenue generating B2B customers. Compare this with the costly deployment of indoor 5G coverage, which delivers no user engagement.
HOW WI-FI COMPLEMENTS 5G
Parts of the mobile industry leadership has been skeptical towards adopting Wi-Fi as carrier-grade technology because it has been viewed as a best-effort service as a result of lack of scheduling mechanisms and the use of unlicensed spectrum.
Fortunately, Wi-Fi technology is right now evolving at such a rapid pace that we believe wireless connectivity in general is on the cusp of fundamental change – a paradigm shift (Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7, coming in 2024, with even more deterministic connectivity at well over 30 Gbps). Soon the Wi-Fi quality shortcomings of the past will be firmly relegated to the history books.
Instead, Wi-Fi will – at least in the case of indoor connectivity – be leading the market in speed, capacity, latency, and overall quality by a wide margin. Learn more about this shift in our White Paper.
At Aptilo Networks we never understood why there would ever be a conflict nor any real competition between Wi-Fi and 5G. On the contrary, the two technologies complement each other perfectly: One is for mobility and wide area coverage (5G), the other for high-performance and high-capacity connectivity indoors (Wi-Fi). And we cannot think of a single reason why operators should not use all the tools at their disposal to maximize profitability.
In October 2020, Aptilo was acquired by Enea, one of the world’s leading suppliers of innovative software for telecommunication and cybersecurity. Enea is now one of the very few vendors in the world offering solutions both within the Wi-Fi and 5G domain.
We believe that carrier Wi-Fi is the perfect complement to cellular in the 5G era principally for the following four reasons:
- New Wi-Fi 6 technology with the same scheduling capabilities as cellular and lots of new unlicensed spectrum provides a massive boost to Wi-Fi connectivity speed, capacity, and quality – and as always, Wi-Fi equipment is exceedingly cost efficient.
- Most 5G operating frequencies penetrate poorly to the indoors and will need Wi-Fi as a complement to deliver seamless indoor coverage and capacity – and we know that 80% or more of the smartphone traffic is already now consumed indoors.
- Wi-Fi is the dominant IoT technology by a wide margin, with around 80% of all IoT devices connecting via short-range technologies such as Wi-Fi.
- Carrier-grade service management solutions including seamless engagement/monetization methods and SIM or certificate-based Passpoint connectivity are mature, effective, and ready to be adopted by CSPs everywhere.