The competition between 5G and WiFi6, what are the advantages of WiFi6


        Cellular communication and WiFi, one main indoor, one main outdoor, two widely used in human life, are equal in strength. WiFi is a supplement to the indoor coverage of mobile networks, and also undertakes a large amount of data traffic unloading. Both want to be the king of their own, but also help each other from time to time.

        However, with the arrival of the 5G era, in view of its comparable transmission rate and wider coverage and ease of use than wifi, there have been various comments on the market, such as "5G will kill WiFi", "WiFi will be eliminated sooner or later", and "WiFi will not survive the 5G era". In the midst of controversy, WiFi6 came late.

        At present, the main application fields and scenarios of WiFi6 network and 5G network have their own emphasis. The connection scope of WiFi6 terminal is limited, and its main application field is LAN, which is mainly deployed in indoor places, such as residential area, family and other living scenes, office scenes such as parks and buildings, traffic hub scenes such as stations and airports, business scenes such as shopping malls and banks. 5G is a wide area network technology. At present, it mainly focuses on outdoor coverage, giving consideration to some indoor shallow coverage, while supporting large-scale mobile terminals, global roaming and equipment security. The synergy of 5G technology and WiFi6 technology will form an integrated network with complementary advantages, and the two technologies will coexist for a long time.

        Previously, the Wi Fi Alliance released the Wi Fi 6 standard. Compared with the previous generation of Wi Fi standards that are currently widely used, Wi Fi 6 will have faster bandwidth and more efficient mature efficiency. Can WiFi6 compete with 5G? Before we talk about this issue, we need to fully understand Wi Fi 6.

        What is WiFi6?

        The latest generation of WiFi6, in technical terms, is 802.11AX. At the beginning of October last year, the Wi Fi specification was renamed, and the new standard 802.11ax was renamed Wi Fi 6. At the same time, the names of previous generations of WiFi have changed accordingly:

        802.11b — WiFi 1 (1999)

        802.11a — WiFi 2 (1999)

        802.11g — WiFi 3 (2003)

        802.11n — WiFi 4 (2009)

        802.11ac — WiFi 5(2014)

        To put it simply, the previous WiFi naming was complex and tedious, but now the naming is easy to understand. The biggest impact on our consumers is that we only need to know that the larger the number behind WiFi, the more advanced the technology.

        It is understood that the transmission rate of the latest generation of WiFi6 (802.11ax) can reach 9.6 Gbps, which means that the theoretical transmission speed reaches 1.2 GB/s. With the arrival of WiFi6, more diversified applications will be covered, such as the Internet of Things, cars, and 4K video transmission.

        5G VS WiFi6

        5G network, as the fifth generation mobile communication technology. 5G is familiar to all of us after a long and extensive publicity, warm-up and discussion. The theoretical bandwidth of 5G is 100 times that of 4G network (the theoretical downlink speed is 10Gb/s), and it also has the characteristics of low delay and low power consumption. It will replace 4G network as the next generation communication network. At present, the 5G communication standard has not been completely determined. Only the eMBB scenario (large traffic bandwidth standard) for 5G mobile phones has been determined. In the second half of this year, a large number of mobile phone manufacturers will launch 5G mobile phones, and telecom operators will also launch 5G packages for users to try.

        There are also URLLC (low delay communication) and mMTC (large Internet of Things) standards in 5G technology that have not been specified. The entire standard has been fully adopted on ITU (International Telecommunication Union), and is expected to be around 2020. The basic popularity of the 5G base stations under construction by the three operators will also wait until 2020.

        WiFi6 is much more low-key than 5G. On October 3, 2018, the WiFi Alliance incorporated WiFi based on 802.11ax standard into the regular army and officially renamed it WiFi6. The first two generation technologies, 802.11n and 802.11ac, are named WiFi4 and WiFi5 respectively.

        Compared with WiFi5, WiFi6 is faster in network speed and larger in capacity. In addition, WiFi6 also adds multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology and orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), which greatly improves the ability of WiFi6 to serve multiple devices at the same time. However, WiFi6 currently faces the same problem as 5G - it takes time to popularize. All the devices on our hands must support WiFi6 protocol (including routers, mobile phones, wireless network cards, etc.), so that this technology can be really used. Due to the speed at which users update their devices, WiFi6 may take longer to become truly popular than 5G.

        Where does 5G compete with WiFi6 and complement each other?

        In 2019, operator based mobile connectivity (LTE and 5G cellular networks) and unauthorized wireless networks (WiFi6, or 802.11ax) will converge in two main areas: radio signal coding and resource scheduling.

        These two wireless systems use the same method to compress more users and data into the frequency they use, so that each base station or wireless access point can communicate with more devices at the same time. Although there is a technical convergence, there are still many differences between operator based wireless systems and unauthorized wireless systems. These differences are reflected in cost, infrastructure layout, and the management control level they provide for enterprise network operators. These factors will determine how an enterprise plans to retain and increase wireless capabilities.

        In an enterprise environment, WiFi6 and 5G compete and complement each other due to different locations, applications, and device types. Here are some examples of competition:

        Enterprises can purchase 5G small cellular devices (small cellular towers) and deploy them internally to provide 5G coverage for employees, and gradually replace WiFi with 5G.

        Due to the continuous development of WiFi standards, enterprises will upgrade their wireless Internet devices every 3-5 years. With 5G, these expenses can be outsourced to service providers. Service providers will be responsible for regularly upgrading their wireless infrastructure.

        In some use cases, 5G can supplement WiFi6, such as:

        In the case of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), the client device (CPE) can connect to the 5G network to realize Internet connection, and can provide connection services locally through WiFi6.

        5G can supplement the use of WiFi6 in residential fixed wireless (for example, the 5G home service recently launched by Verizon). With 5G, service providers can reduce the cost of their scheduling operations and enable customers to activate their Internet connection services through self-service mechanisms.

        Even in enterprises, WiFi has a higher penetration rate through laptops and mobile devices that support WiFi. Although it is easier to eliminate WiFi from mobile devices and convert them completely to 5G, it is not easy to remove WiFi from laptops. In addition, it is much cheaper to launch WiFi6 in enterprises than 5G networks. The time for enterprises to launch WiFi6 is also shorter than 5G.

        In addition to enterprises, WiFi6 and 5G will change their roles in the future. Due to their fast speed, high bandwidth and other characteristics, they are also quietly changing the Internet of Things. With the launch of 5G and WiFi6 in 2019, IoT devices will be designed to send more information with less energy consumption. These technologies can keep devices online or connected all the time. Various types of devices may also start to use SIM cards or embedded SIM cards to enable cellular functionality, which will change the current trend of WiFi devices.

        Both WiFi6 and 5G have adopted scheduling methods to make resources more deterministic, which is also of great significance for mission critical IoT assets used in automated manufacturing, medical, energy and other industries. WiFi6 wireless access points will increase support for other radio technologies in the future (such as Bluetooth and Zigbee). These access points will become more powerful IoT gateways, and even become useful wireless sensors to help track and manage devices.

        It is noteworthy that, as an extension of LTE technology (and the subsequent 5G technology), CBRS (Citizen Broadband Radio Service) is said to be a complementary technology of WiFi6 for providing wireless connectivity inside buildings. In the United States, CBRS uses a frequency band within the 3.5Ghz range that is not used by WiFi or existing LTE/5G services, so it is unlikely to be interfered by devices accessed by ordinary consumers. Soon, some initial CBRS functions will be commercialized. For robots and other devices that need stable wireless and mobile connectivity, CBRS will become an ideal complement to WiFi6.

        Of course, compared with WiFi6, 5G technology also has its own advantages. For enterprise IT, in an area where WiFi is not an ideal choice, 5G will be a revolutionary technology. For example, if hundreds or even thousands of IoT devices need wireless connectivity, WiFi6 will be a necessary wireless technology for connecting IoT devices in the buildings owned by enterprises. When the Internet of Things is transferred to an area outside the enterprise building, the sensor can still use 5G as the wireless transmission mode to obtain a connection with sufficient speed and reliability.

        5G and WiFi6 make IoT devices "live" and change the way we use IoT devices.

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