5G and WIFI technologies are used for different use cases. Like in the 4G era, WIFI networks will still be used for most connectivity in 5G, especially in the home and offices where mobility is not needed.
WIFI can be a good choice for companies that have the knowledge to run their own network and when devices only need connectivity inside one area, like a building or campus. WIFI networks are often decentralized networks with local security and operational management. Mobile technology like 5G provide nationwide and even global connectivity that is centrally managed. This reduces operational costs when many devices are connected and enables a better centralized security management. Mobile connectivity provides instant connectivity, which keeps devices connected through the life cycle.
Mobile technology like 5G can give companies a direct relationship to end users. There are many WIFI connected devices targeted to consumers, that provide companies a channel for new revenue through recurring sales and upsell. This WIFI connectivity relies on the competence and willingness of these consumers. Connecting an IoT device to WIFI is often not user friendly, will break when the WIFI networks change or insecure. Companies will miss out on the largest part of the market for connected consumers, because many do not take the effort to connect and keep connected. Only mobile IoT technology can instantly provide a secure connection that will continue work during the life cycle of the device.
Many consumers also struggle with WIFI at home due to the configuration and complexity of network equipment in their homes, such as routers or switches. For example, a WIFI network with multiple managed switches often suffers disturbances in connectivity. Like two captains on one ship, two managed switches mean trouble. The average end user will not understand this and perceive their WIFI devices to be less reliable compared to a mobile connection. The mobile connection provides instant connectivity.
5G will not replace WIFI, in the same way as 4G has not replaced WIFI.
5G will however continue to provide the best user experience through instant connectivity, has cost benefits for fleets of devices and a global connection, based on standardized technology existing roaming business models.
We believe that 5G will not replace 4G, operators will use 4G LTE on lower radio frequencies and 5G new radio for higher frequencies. We expect that both 4G and 5G will be used together for years to come.
Nearly all operators with 5G deployments will offer a dual mode, where LTE is the primacy access points (anchor) for 5G devices. 5G devices could be redirected to a 5G New Radio network if needed, for example when high radio frequencies are needed for massive multiple video streaming or other use cases that need much data. The usage of both 4G and 5G is standardized by 3GPP as “5G-non-standalone”. We believe that operators will continue to operate in non-standalone mode for a long time. The lower frequencies used by 4G are already very efficient and using 5G new radio on these low frequencies will not add that much extra value.