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Will 5G replace WiFi hotspots?

The 5G mobile networks are getting more and more traction and many be perceived as the WiFi killer due to speeds they can offer. The reality is not so one sided as it may look like. So will people still use WiFi in the 5G era? Lets take a look.

With the growth of cellular networks customers get better and better mobile data plans. In some places we can get 5G data plan with no data limit. This could fully replace wireless and wired network usages including media consumption like Netflix, Youtube streaming as well as even game streaming that is likely to grow as more and more vendors join this market. Prior to that users switched from cellular data to WiFi when downloading larger amounts of data.

5G and unlimited data plan won't solve all problems. Venues in remote areas may have problems with 5G coverage or offer lower connection speeds. Venues having large amount of visitors like during events will still need specialized WiFi installations as 5G on it own likely won't be able to handle so many users on so small space. Hotels and tourist attractions will still need WiFi for foreign users that can have additional roaming cost on their cellular data or even lack of service abroad. Even local laptop users may not want the hassle of creating a tethering setup from their phone that will drain the battery even quicker. Conference centers and alike will still rely on local networks to share data, manage and control devices used during a conference or training.

And we come to an important point - 5G isn't here to dominate WiFi. It's here to work together with latest WiFi standards - WiFi 6 and 6E. Both are intended as synergistic services in wide range of deployments - from consumer to enterprise.

5G mobile networks will co-exist with WiFi 6 networks. Both of those technologies were designed around that as well. Both offer high throughput, low latency and high capacity. With intended usage in mind WiFi 6 will be in your home and at your work place while 5G is everywhere outside. WiFi 6/5G will also intermingle in more remote locations.

When 5G can cover open areas WiFi 6 can handle a small area with high density of users - much higher than what was possible with older standards. Typical installation for a stadium or a convention center should get simpler with WiFi 6.

Chuck Lukaszewski from Aruba talking about WiFi 6 and 5G networks working in tandem

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