With the development of 3GPP Release 16, due out in December, 2019, which will establish the 5G standards for mobile devices, the WBA has developed a detailed set of alternatives to integrate Wi-Fi with cellular services as a peer service.
On Tuesday, the FCC Commissioners, with Chairman Pai, unanimously voted in favor of adding another 1.2 Ghz more Wi-Fi spectrum by allocating unlicensed frequency in the 6 Ghz band.
For multitenant building management, this announcement is especially exciting. WiFi has begun to be used for augmentation of smartphone services in buildings in which signal penetration is an issue, for high speed data connections such as video streaming, and for the operation of building management services such as HVAC control, water conservation and video surveillance. All of these uses would have placed strain on existing WiFi frequency plans – now no more.
The most important thing to understand is that 5G is a generation of cellular technology. This may seem like an obvious mention, but it is extremely important that building owners understand the following: if your building currently experiences poor indoor cellular coverage of 3G or 4G, 5G will experience those same signal issues.
We recently discussed with some building owners the differences between Distributed Antenna Systems and WiFi Calling for those buildings with poor in building cell phone services. One of the questions that was asked by building owners was, “Is WiFi good enough to provide voice and text services in our buildings?”
Our answer was that a MANAGED WiFi service has a Quality of Experience (“QoE”) that is comparable to cellular service. A MANAGED WiFi service, with Quality of Service (“QoS”) parameters in all elements of the network, and voice packet prioritization, provides a QoE that is comparable to outdoor cell service, especially in dense environments.
If a building has large common areas that attract many smartphone users, such as restaurants, retail shops, event areas and the like, WiFi Calling through a properly designed MANAGED WiFi service, may actually provide a higher QoE than the standard cellphone services or a Distributed Antenna System. That is because the amount of radio frequency capacity available in the WiFi spectrum is substantially more than that of the cellular service providers. As an example, we make use of 650 Mhz of spectrum in a particular WiFi implementation in a building, whereas a cellular service provider may only have 100 Mhz of spectrum available in that area of a city and within that building.
With six times the available spectrum, a properly designed MANAGED WiFi service not only offers high quality voice services, but also provides higher speeds and capacity for data uses as well.