With the advent of 5G technology, modern use cases are being generated to support industry-specific requirements adding great value to organisations. Though Wi-Fi technology played a dominant role in imparting connectivity to enterprises in the last decade, the next decade is anticipated to be ruled by 5G and the upcoming versions providing more reliable, faster, and secured connectivity to its users. Now, as operators continue to build private 5G using 5G network testing equipment and tools & 5G speed tests tools, smart RF drive test tools for their enterprise customers, it is expected to solve some enterprise problems that Wi-Fi technology can’t. Private 5G promises to be supplementary to Wi-Fi rather than a competitor and will coexist in most of the enterprises since the latter is already deployed in the past years across multiple industries by companies irrespective of their size. Whether it is ethernet, Wi-Fi, or private 5G, each of these connectivity forms has its own capabilities built to bolster various types of use cases.
How private 5G solves some of the enterprise pain points that Wi-Fi can’t?
1. Connecting point-to-point through Wi-Fi in a previous plan to connect new devices on the network presented logistical issues due to interference created by the existing Wi-Fi devices on the campus. This is where private 5G fits in and provides a network where Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is the central component to deliver cellular communications with no deployment of multiple Access Points (APs) in a network.
2. New emergency phones, cameras, and access control devices on-site demand additional Internet connectivity. This means every time addition of a new device requires physical cabling to be completed to function properly and can be expensive and time-consuming especially in a case where the cable conduits connecting devices are already filled and cannot expand further. Higher capacity in private 5G enables the network to be scalable as per the business need and connects thousands of devices with no additional purchasing and installing costs of the cables.
3. Wi-Fi is well suited for non-mission critical environments such as Office IT communications, universities, colleges, stadiums, convention centers, entertainment venues, hotels, VR applications – to name a few. On the other hand, private 5G is aimed at serving both mission-critical and non-mission-critical applications and services with low latency and high reliability; broader coverage in indoor as well as outdoor locations. Moreover, the ability to leverage cognitive network intelligence and provide real-time data insights assists industry leaders to analyse and use it for flourishing their businesses.
4. Enterprises are embracing Wi-Fi and private 5G to meet their varying needs; the next obvious question is interoperability. They will need to switch back and forth seamlessly between them to reduce disruptions that we generally experience in the current world.
Complementing 5G and Wi-Fi wireless technologies
5G technology is developing. With the introduction of the CBRS shared spectrum, private 5G is evolving and will be key to drive enterprise connectivity. CBRS is perfect for enterprises with requirements for mission-critical applications expanded to a larger geographical area that comprise mines, farms, hospitals, manufacturing plants, sports stadiums, ports, logistics centers, and many more. The technology uses network slicing and dynamic spectrum sharing to dedicate slices related to their priorities via a shared spectrum. CBRS gains significant advantages over Wi-Fi networks in some applications where guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) and security become essential. However, it is complementary to Wi-Fi in various situations and such wireless access is expanding too for widespread adoption in enterprises. It is to be noted that many early private 5G deployments with CBRS linked from the WAN to the router and Wi-Fi technology from the access point to devices connected through Internet of Things (IoT). Further, many APs will facilitate CBRS and Wi-Fi communications in the next few years.
Wi-Fi or private 5G, at the end, it’s all about a particular use case that is developed to serve a requirement with these technologies. Mission-critical applications in medical sector as an instance need stringent data privacy to be in place, making private 5G an ideal choice whereas Wi-Fi will still be accessible for general healthcare activities. With 5G, enterprises can connect their multiple devices at a time and transmit data simultaneously in less time thereby increasing their efficiency and reducing response time. Having said that, companies are switching to and fro from Wi-Fi to private 5G to become resilient and adaptable to new technological changes required to reap significant ROI, leading to their business growth in the upcoming years.