Used together, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G can offer better performance than a 5G to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mobile hotspot can provide, though wider deployment of 5G mobile networks is still needed.
Qualcomm announced new reference designs that deliver Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) via 5G connections for fixed-point wireless internet service on Monday, ahead of the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, which begins on Tuesday.
Qualcomm's reference designs for Networking Pro 1200 and Snapdragon X55-powered customer premises equipment (CPEs) are available for OEM sampling, with commercial availability dependent on a number of factors.
The Snapdragon X55, Qualcomm's second generation 5G modem can be configured to support sub-6 GHz, allowing for longer range communication, as well as the headline-generating speeds offered by millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies. Though mmWave is inherently line of sight, these limitations pose far less of an issue when pointed correctly at a 5G tower by professional installers, though Qualcomm's design is capable of being deployed as a self-install unit.
SEE: 5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The Qualcomm Networking Pro 1200 platform is a Wi-Fi 6 firewall, router, and gateway solution, with support for voice calling (POTS) and e-911 support, as well as Qualcomm's Maximum User Networking Architecture, which allows for multiple client devices to connect in high-density environments.
The Snapdragon X55 CPE reference design allows for deployments of CPEs that provide wired ethernet connections, or integration with external routers, while the Networking Pro 1200 design integrates Wi-Fi 6 access, eliminating the need for additional equipment. Commercial products based on the chipset and reference design are anticipated next year.
Qualcomm is positioning this as a competitor to DSL, cable broadband (DOCSIS) and passive optical networking (PON) providers, touting it as "the most significant shift from wireline technologies by supporting multi-gigabit 5G fixed wireless backhaul." The first deployment of 5G home internet were tests from Verizon Wireless in October 2018. Deployments were halted in December 2018 to begin transitions from its proprietary 5G TF equipment to standards-based 5G NR. While Verizon has not made an announcement, this solution is a likely candidate to replace that hardware, given its existing relationship with Qualcomm.
Compared to currently available CPEs or mobile hotspots with 802.11ac and LTE, the combination of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G offers substantially improved latency. While there is a modest increase in latency with the extra hop added by going from Wi-Fi to a cellular network, the effect should be relatively muted when the wireless connectivity ecosystem matures.
When deployment of fully independent, stand-alone 5G networks (5G NR SA) are made available, the full benefits of the lower latency properties of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 for mobile broadband will be realized. "Latency is largely dependent on the connection from the hotspot device to the internet using the 5G air interface," said Milan Milanović, technical evangelist at Ookla.
"Currently, 5G deployments worldwide are non-standalone, with the signaling and control plane flowing over LTE, which means the 5G latency is similar to LTE. Once 5G SA is rolled out, we should start seeing lower latency. By that time, 5G hotspot devices capable of 802.11ax should be available, and more importantly, 802.11ax client devices capable of taking advantage of the 802.11ax air interface."
For more, check out "You can deploy Wi-Fi 6 now, but benefits of 5G could be years away for your organization" and "Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G represents a third of all Note 10 sales at Verizon" at TechRepublic.
The full list of partners announced by Qualcomm includes Arcadyan, Askey, AVM, Casa Systems, Compal, Cradlepoint, Fibocom, FIH, Franklin, Gemtek, Gongjing, Gosuncn, Inseego, LG, Linksys, MeiG, NETGEAR, Nokia, OPPO, Panasonic, Quanta, Quectel, Sagemcom, Samsung, Sharp, Sercomm, Sierra Wireless, Sunsea, Technicolor, Telit, Wewins, Wingtech, WNC, and ZTE.
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