When to use 5G, when to use Wi-Fi 6

We have seen hype about whether 5G cellular or Wi-Fi 6 will win in the enterprise, but the reality is that the two are largely complementary with an overlap for some use cases, which will make for an interesting competitive environment through the early 2020s.

The potential for 5G in enterprises

The promise of 5G for enterprise users is higher speed connectivity with lower latency. Cellular technology uses licensed spectrum which largely eliminates potential interference that may occur with unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum.  Like current 4G LTE technologies, 5G can be supplied by cellular wireless carriers or built as a private network .

The architecture for 5G requires many more radio access points and can suffer from poor or no connectivity indoors.  So, the typical organization needs to assess its current 4G and potential 5G service for its PCs, routers and other devices.   Deploying indoor microcells, repeaters and distributed antennas can help solve indoor 5G service issues.  As with 4G, the best enterprise 5G use case is for truly mobile connectivity such as public safety vehicles and in non-carpeted environments like mining, oil and gas extraction, transportation, farming and some manufacturing.

In addition to broad mobility, 5G offers advantages in terms of authentication while roaming and speed of deployment as might be needed to provide WAN connectivity to a pop-up office or retail site. 5G will have the capacity to offload traffic in cases of data congestion such as live video.  As 5G standards mature, the technology will improve its options for low-power IoT connectivity.

5G will gradually roll out over the next four to five years starting  in large cities and specific geographies; 4G technology will remain prevalent for a number of years.  Enterprise users will need new devices, dongles and routers to connect to 5G services. For example, Apple iPhones are not expected to support 5G until 2020, and IoT devices will need specific cellular…

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