Wi-Fi 6 and 5G: Best of Frenemies

5G wifi 6

The future of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are entwined, with overlapping but distinct capabilities that will lead to cooperation and competition, according to Deloitte Global’ 2022 Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions.

The firm says that though 5G gets the lion’s share of the headlines, in many ways Wi-Fi 6 is in the lead. Next year, Deloitte predicts that next year 2.5 billion Wi-Fi 6 devices will be shipped, compared to 1.5 billion 5G devices.

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G

There is much overlap between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G and both air interfaces will be used by consumers and enterprises, Deloitte notes. Both technologies offer high speed, low latency, and increased density and network capacity.

And unlike earlier generations cellular and Wi-Fi, these two technologies are being developed in a cooperative framework in which the strengths of each is recognized. The underlying assumption is that they together will play an important role in the transformation of IT and telecommunications to be more mobile.

The key differences between the two technologies are range, support for mobility and cost, according to the report.

“Wi-Fi 6 and its predecessors tend to be used for smaller, less expensive local area networks, often for connectivity inside homes and offices, while cellular networks such as 5G are used for both indoor and outdoor wide area networks, often for devices that move across large geographic areas (for instance, for smart city applications, ports and airports, and connected vehicles),” the report states.

The idea that the two technologies are frenemies is buttressed by the responses from 437 networking executives from nine countries who participated in a Deloitte survey. Researchers found that 45% currently are testing or deploying Wi-Fi 6 and 5G for advanced wireless initiatives and that 98% of respondents expect to be using both technologies within three years. During the next three years, respondents expect to allocate 48% of their enterprise wireless networking spending to Wi-Fi and 52% to cellular technologies.


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