While 5G was the undisputed queen of the scene at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there was plenty of action and interest around the business and technology opportunities that are swirling around next generation Wi-Fi technology
While 5G was the undisputed queen of the scene at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there was plenty of action and interest around the business and technology opportunities that are swirling around next generation Wi-Fi technology, according to Mercedes Pastor, Technicolor’s Senior Vice President for the Global Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) business unit.
It is easy, suggests Pastor, to get lost in the headlines that 5G is generating and miss the critical role that in-home wireless local-area networks -- especially new solutions based on Wi-Fi 6 and EasyMeshTM technologies -- are going to play in meeting the high expectations of consumers all around the world. That is why network service providers (NSPs) will have to carefully evaluate the advantages and limitations of the different technologies. The good news is that there is plenty of opportunity associated with intelligently integrating 5G and emerging Wi-Fi services to the home.
“There is no doubt that 5G networks will add a new and important option for delivering broadband services to the home. But there are extremely interesting possibilities to explore by integrating fixed and mobile 5G broadband delivery with managed Wi-Fi technologies. For instance, it creates opportunities to integrate at-home and on-the-go services that can generate important new revenue streams, while simultaneously elevating the relationships NSPs have with their subscribers,” she says.
User Experience Revolves Around Application Workloads
The one major mistake that NSPs should avoid is thinking that 5G is a silver bullet solution for addressing all workloads in an optimal manner.
“There is a tremendous amount of diversity in the kinds of traffic that NSPs manage for their subscribers. Not all of that traffic needs to go back to a central switch -- or to the cloud,” she points out.
In many cases doing so would be very undesirable from a privacy, security risk and economic perspective. With the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices in the home -- like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home Pod and other smart devices -- much of the traffic does not need to leave the wireless LAN.
“Wi-Fi, in these cases, takes a lot of pressure off of the wide-area network, and improves in-home performance in the most cost-effective manner, while reducing risk,” explains Pastor.
“That is why NSPs will have to make business and technological decisions about what makes the most sense for delivering broadband to the home based on specific demographic, geographic and economic variables. In my view, it will be different for providers across a variety of scenarios. And let us not forget that cable and fiber are still often the best technologies for guaranteeing the delivery of gigabit -- or higher -- performance to the home.”
Technicolor Offering a Variety of Hybrid Options to NSPs
Because of the growing imperative to mix and match different access and wireless technologies, Technicolor has invested a tremendous amount of resources in creating innovative hybrid CPE offerings.
“At Technicolor, we are actively pursuing the opportunity to serve NSPs through Hybrid CPEs -- which support multiple access technologies -- that maximize the flexibility of network access and in-home wireless performance,” Pastor says.
“We are incorporating Wi-Fi 6 and EasyMeshTM into all of our products and we are developing the different use cases for hybrid gateways that integrate 5G technology so that our NSPs can put the right traffic on the right networks and deliver the best user experience to their subscribers,” she concludes.