Wi-Fi 6, 5G & CBRS Wireless: Competitors, Co-existence or Collaboration?

Wi-Fi 6, 5G, CBRS – these are the topics at the forefront of any wireless discussion today. In a wireless breakout session at Extreme Connect 2020 the key focus was to identify whether or not these wireless technologies are in fact, competitors or in fact collaborative technologies. Ultimately, that depends on the use case, how its deployed, or the environment it is used in, you may use just one or they may just work together cohesively to optimize a user’s overall experience. If you missed the live session, no worries – just click on the link and watch it on-demand to catch the full details on the subject at hand.

Interestingly enough, 5G and Wi-Fi came from the same place – back in 2012, the goal of IMT 2020 was to address user and application trends for the year 2020. The following section takes a quick look into each of the technologies:

Wi-Fi 6 key takeaways:

– Wi-Fi continues to evolve

– Upgrades in the past have always been about speed – 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6 is actually different – Wi-Fi 6 offers huge improvements in efficiency over previous versions

– Wi-Fi 6 value proposition:

  • Improved Spatial Efficiency – OBSS
  • Scheduling and Power Save Improvements with TWT
  • Higher Data Rates – QAM 1024
  • Wi-Fi 6E opens up the 6 GHz spectrum
  • Use Cases: anything

5G key takeaways:

– Cellular technology continues to evolve, just like Wi-Fi

– 5G is about supporting EVERYTHING but availability varies greatly by region, by carrier, by device-

– 5G value proposition:

  • 10-11 times faster than existing LTE
  • Density to support billions of devices
  • Extremely low latency
  • 5G applications
  • Virtualization of the core network
  • Efficient scalability
  • Flexible radio network architecture
  • Use Cases: VR/AR, Smart City, Automotive, Wearables, eHealth, Retail…pretty much anything.

CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) key takeaways:

– Shared spectrums continue to evolve, just like 5G or Wi-Fi

– It’s 150 MHz of spectrum, so not a lot, but its meant for in-building small cell wireless

– Reduced cost and deployment effort

– CBRS value proposition:

  • Combine advantages of licensed and unlicensed  access
  • Combine public and private wireless infrastructure
  • Boost indoor coverage and small cells
  • Open access to 150 MHz of spectrum
  • Increase spectrum utilization and efficiency through spectrum sharing
  • Use Cases: MNOs, MSPs, Neutral hosts, Private LTE, Wireless Internet Service Providers and Utilities

So, how does this all come together – how do all of these wireless technologies work together? The answer (maybe you should just watch the recording J) – there is no perfect wireless technology for all use cases. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages and has unique use case value. Most importantly, one technology will not replace the other – they can co-exist and actually add value to one another.

This blog was originally authored by Perry Correll, Director, Product Marketing.

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