2019 was an exciting year for the telecommunications industry. The launch of both Wi-Fi 6 and the rollout of 5G networks has provided network users with the latest in wireless standards, defining a new era for connectivity.
But what are these two standards, and how will the industry change with their roll-out? Let’s begin by taking a look at the next-generation networks.
A new Wi-Fi standard
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) refers to the next generation of Wi-Fi. The new standard improves the performance of the entire network and increases the network capacity by up to 4 times compared to its predecessor, 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5).
The major differentiator when comparing Wi-Fi 6 with its predecessor is the OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) which services multiple devices with varying bandwidth needs simultaneously. In other words, OFDMA eliminates contention between devices, transmitting data in parallel.
Likewise, Wi-Fi 6 manages network traffic effectively from multiple devices via Multi-user Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MU MIMO). This feature allows 8 devices to transmit at once using a dedicated channel per device.
According to Cisco, Wi-Fi 6 is considered to be the most reliable access technology; offering a seamless experience to users.
A new era for cellular networks
As Wi-Fi 6 is the latest standard for Wi-Fi, 5G is the latest standard for cellular networks replacing 4G. 5G is currently being rolled out across the globe, bringing higher speeds, levels of performance and reduced latency.
5G will be significantly faster than its predecessor 4G, bringing about much higher bandwidth and capacity to networks. For instance, the 5G high-band spectrum has the theoretical ability to reach a maximum of 10Gbps.
What will happen to Wi-Fi when 5G is available?
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the impact of 5G on Wi-Fi networks. Oculus CTO John Carmack was quoted last year stating that network 5G providers are “in the tough situation of trying to make it seem different and new, but all they have is more bandwidth.”
There is industry scepticism that 5G networks won’t live up to the performance promised. A number of other significant limitations for the 5G network are as follows:
5G is a costly venture. The cost of deploying 5G microcells is significant, especially if they have to deploy more microcells to ensure network users within a smaller area receive the connection speeds promised.
5G takes advantage of a millimetre wave spectrum, offering super-fast connection. These waves, however, do not penetrate through concrete and require more infrastructure to reach to users. As more 5G microcells are deployed, more fibre will need to be deployed to provide the backbone of the network.
Return on Investment
Return on investment is a major concern for cellular network providers. These companies only have a certain quantity of bandwidth to release. The more bandwidth released, the higher the cost.
There is no incentive for a provider to release more bandwidth than they have to; retaining bandwidth for profit maximisation. The downside is that if not enough bandwidth is released, network performance suffers, becoming congested with users and devices.
As Oculus CTO John Cormack conveyed in September, industry members are sceptical of 5G in meeting the demands that growing content markets like VR require. While we wait for 5G to deploy, the content requiring the service will begin to catch-up to the infrastructure.
Fixed networks, on the other hand, are currently able to meet the needs of this growing content creation. VostroNet, for example, deploys a dedicated 10 Gbps fibre connection to each site it deploys to, providing the fastest speeds available in the market. Capacity can also be upgraded in the future to meet growing content demands.
What’s the industry outlook?
Despite the technological advancements that 5G is set to bring, the technology faces significant limitations.
That is not to say both Wi-Fi 6 and cellular networks can’t work complimentary of one another. 5G will be good for larger areas but not for an enterprise application. 5G, however, will see network improvements to cellular devices with faster speeds, as well as a decrease in network outages market-wide.
Wi-Fi 6, on the other hand, comes with significant improvements to performance, and the ability to provide uncontended bandwidth to a higher number of devices.
What’s the verdict? If you’re a developer looking for the latest solution for your building or public spaces, look for a future-proof fibre network. Residents and guests will receive speeds that not only cater to content today but can be upgraded to meet the demands of the future.
VostroNet deploys a 10Gbps fibre connection to each of their sites. For where wireless is in use, our network utilises only Wi-Fi 5 and above.
Find out more about VostroNet’s network offering today.