When talk today begins around advances in broadband, they’re more often than not discussing 5G or closing the digital divide, or both. WiFi is often left out of the conversation, despite its widespread use. Still, some believe it may be a huge part of deploying next-gen broadband technologies and offering them up to every demographic.
Broadcom mobile connectivity division vp Vijay Nagarajan told attendees of a New America event Monday that ubiquitous WiFi in every building provides a cost-effective cover for cellular 5G deployments.
“It not only helps you service the urban environments, but it helps you establish these 5G services in rural America,” Nagarajan said.
Rather than thinking of 5G as some sort of replacement for WiFi, it’s better to imagine them as complements. 5G will take care of your wireless needs outside of the home while WiFi 6 will handle indoor traffic.
“In the last many years, there’s been this vision that WiFi competes with licensed spectrum,” FCC commish Michael O’Rielly said in a later fireside chat with fellow commish Jessica Rosenworcel. “In a 5G universe, that doesn’t happen. You’re going to see more complementary roles, they’re going to intertwine very smoothly.”
Rosenworcel said the demand for WiFi is growing more than ever before with data estimating that within the next four years, WiFi will contribute $3.5 trillion of economic activity globally and create 1mln new jobs. And there’s no telling how many extra devices will be added to the current Wi-Fi Alliance estimate of 9bln. Technicolor, product management, connected home Geert Matthys projects that there will be an average of 15 devices per home by 2021, with many of those being either mobile or IoT devices.
“We should seize that and make sure that this growth continues,” Rosenworcel said. “WiFi has been this place for innovation. It’s in its DNA and that’s because there are low barriers to entry with unlicensed spectrum and it’s the perfect sandbox for experimentation.”
While WiFi in its current generation is capable of supporting 5G services including low latency and speeds in the 10Gbps range, Nagarajan and others are thinking about the 6GHz band as the way forward for the technology.
The 6GHz band offers up twice the bandwidth and throughput for WiFi as what’s currently available as well as up to 1200 MHz of additional spectrum for use. Why look for additional spectrum when WiFi has long called unlicensed spectrum home? Rosenworcel and O’Rielly said that it’ll require more in order to fulfill the vision of a 5G future.
“In the next few years, we’re going to have billions and billions more [devices], so how do we prepare for that future?” Rosenworcel said. “First, we’re going to need more spectrum and second, we’re going to need to make sure that we have wider channels within that spectrum so that we can have WiFi super-highways.”
It’s not difficult to convince policymakers and the public about the need for more spectrum. The trouble comes in figuring out the how and where they’re going to go through the process of freeing up the 6GHz band.
Read more here:: feeds.feedburner.com/cable360/ct/operations?format=xmlPosted on: June 4, 2019