Days after the Broadband Forum announced its intention to recommend wireline and wireless converged networks and 5G to mobile standards group 3GPP, NGMN and Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) published the initial results of their partnership to encourage convergence of multi-technology RANs and core networks.
The latter two organizations wrote a report promoting several emerging opportunities and potential use cases occurring when 3GPP's 5G and WiFi converge. This goal, however, requires steps such as tighter integration of WiFi access into 5G networks, enhanced network manageability and policy control, and enablement of WiFi-only devices,
according to NGMN and WBA. (See Broadband Forum 2019: Focused on Services.)
"5G and Next Gen WiFi (WiFi 6) technologies will, over the course of the next year, present a new set of features and capabilities to address the wireless ecosystem," Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the Wireless Broadband Alliance told Broadband World News. "Being able to combine both technologies will optimize operator's requirements, investments and delivery of services to their customers."
Broadband providers' fiber investments -- used for FTTH and home WiFi, as well as densification to support 5G -- get additional bang for the buck as WiFi and cellular systems get closer in proximity. After all, WiFi6 and 5G encompass both New Radio (NR) and LTE. But, NGMN and WBA agree what's ultimately needed is network-level convergence between 5G and WiFi.
"By combining Wi-Fi with 5G, we address both identified and future use cases in a more efficient and economic way. WBA and NGMN have created a joint task force that intends to identify the benefits and challenges for operators pursuing a strategy of RAN Convergence (HetNet)," Rodriguez said. "We have identified five major challenges, including 'How to enable WiFi only devices; how to have a tight integration between 5G and WiFi; what features for network management and policy control need to be developed; how to better manage traffic routing across multiple RANs and what are the economic benefits of RAN convergence for the operators.' "
Network-level convergence allows providers to leverage both RANs' capabilities to deliver seamless connectivity as data travels between 5G mobile and WiFi6 networks, according to the two advocates.
"Bringing together 5G and Next Generation Wi-Fi will have a significant, positive impact on the wireless experience for end users, which is why collaborations like this one between NGMN and WBA are so important," said Klaus Moschner, executive programme manager at NGMN, via email. "The emerging opportunities and use cases found in this report will assist in driving the 5G ecosystem forward and forming a clear strategic path for converged RAN deployments. It is critical that other key industry bodies join the conversation and work with us on technologies that are going to have a huge impact on the overall ecosystem."
One possible use case: Enterprise services carried on cellular networks, particularly those 5G Core enables, may trigger new considerations for using an access-neutral mechanism to address coverage gaps, the number of indoor and outdoor WiFi deployments, and the potential for multi-site enterprise environments, he said. Added Peter Meissner, NGMN Alliance CEO, some cellular operators want a standardized solution, so they gain improved visibility and control into the configuration and management of WiFi access networks. Convergence of 5G and WiFi potentially could deliver big benefits to mobile operators, enterprise and public WiFi solution providers including cable operators and high-speed broadband providers, which then garner access to both 5G and WiFi networks, he said.
More than a half-million Irish residents expected to have fiber broadband by 2020. But Ireland's National Broadband Plan has not even begun — and government officials today postponed any agreement again.
In a new report and searchable database, Broadband Now discovered fiber is the is the least expensive technology powering subscribers' connections. But the poorest, most rural residents pay the most for connectivity, regardless of underlying infrastructure.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.