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The launch of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and the growth of 4G are taking us beyond wireless-first and into a wireless-only market. New spectrum bands allow for the reduction of performance differences in wired networks, making wireless just a practical aspiration.
FREMONT, CA: Over the last decade, wireless first innovations have achieved widespread acceptance. During this time, wireless business networking was used to communicate with customers and make operations more agile and usually relied on:
• Two wireless systems, 4G LTE and 4/5 Wi-Fi, have different roles to play in helping professional users.
• A universal access model with all utilities handled equally and provided over a broadband connection.
• Universal 4G coverage, indoor and outdoor, with Wi-Fi based on indoor hotspots.
• 4G as primary connectivity for tablets, with data traffic off to Wi-Fi in homes and offices.
• Wi-Fi is used as the primary access for 4G embedded laptops and tablets used by road warriors traveling widely for business purposes.
• 4G offered with bucket-based, flexible data plans. Free Wi-Fi for end-users in public settings, subsidised by neighbouring businesses and provided as a managed IT service in business premises.
Entry to a Wireless Market
The launch of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and the growth of 4G are taking us beyond wireless-first and into a wireless-only market. New spectrum bands allow for the reduction of performance differences in wired networks, making wireless just a practical aspiration. We will need to reconsider where we are using cellular access and Wi-Fi outside the indoor/outdoor demarcation line. Eventually, these innovations also allow us to explore business model innovation beyond universal connectivity to traffic-based charges or free services.
Creation of Wi-Fi networking for business purposes
Wi-Fi is a workhorse for the unloading of high volumes of low-value data traffic from smartphones with no/low-performance criteria. This use case is actually taking place in both workplaces and residences. Smartphone providers have supported this growth by providing early support for Wi-Fi 6 on 5G smartphones.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, we had a simple differentiation of networking models for laptops and tablets at home and in offices-based on controlled local Wi-Fi networks in offices and self-supported suburban wireless LANs at home. This model performed well while working in the office was the standard.
A long, gradual and partial return of information staff to offices would push companies to reconsider their communication strategies on the basis of two key themes:
• What can make office upgrades from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 feasible when a large reduction in office staff slows down Wi-Fi traffic growth?
• How do companies help an increasing share of the workforce employed remotely in homes and alternative workplaces?
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