The parallel development of 5G and Wi-Fi
Q: I know this is a topic you’ve been researching as of late. At a high-level, what is the narrative that’s emerging?
A: My view is Wi-Fi is really developing independently of 5G but it’s sort of developing along the same lines as 3GPP 5G; it’s in parallel. The difference is that in Wi-Fi, you don’t have generations. It’s more incremental, you just add different pieces. It’s sort of more gradual and less visible from a marketing point of view. Even 802.11ax. We know what that is but, most consumers, it’s lost on them. When you go and buy an access point you go and buy the latest one. You see Wi-Fi is getting better but there is no ‘5G is coming’ marketing push.
Q: As the two technologies develop, as you said “in parallel,” how does that look over time?
A: If you look at the IMT specification for what they want 5G to be, to think about 5G without Wi-Fi, it’s just impossible. My take on this is it’s not whether Wi-Fi will survive. It certainly will. Will 5G be successful? Yes, it will. There’s no question there. But to think one of them is enough to meet the requirements, it just won’t be enough to meet it at scale. To make it economical, you just need both. Just imagine if you don’t have Wi-Fi. What would happen? You just need them both.