In the era of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 a lot of information is out there, some say 5G will be inevitable and will completely replace Wi-Fi. Some say Wi-Fi will persist and will remain mandatory. My belief is that we will need both, or we need W-Fi as mandatory medium to communicate but also an alternative frequency like 5G to deliver connectivity in a more geographically spread area.

With 5G connectivity available i have my questions if this is the right frequency to use for all future IoT projects. It might be the only technology left in a few years, at this moment i do have some remarks on the way it is promoted. Most likely mobile clients will determine if a wider adoption will continue to happen and technology like 5G will become the preferred way for connectivity. This means laptops need a SIM slot again like we had several years back to accommodate WWAN, some laptops still have a slot but this is a minority. Will enterprises allow clients to connect directly to 5G within the company from a security perspective ? Once organisations have all data stored in cloud providers like Azure this might happen, endpoint security will become even more necessary as it is already.

Is 5G the way to go or can we make it happen with other technology like LoRa, NB-IoT or LTE-M. Like so many things in this business, the answer is it depends. Just as we see do for designing Wi-Fi networks we need to know the type of endpoints and the amount of traffic.

  • If we need only a keep-alive packet twice a day and the endpoint is battery powered, do we need 5G connectivity for this or can we make it work on LoRa. The interesting part with LoRa is that it is an unlicensed frequency band such as Wi-Fi, this means for a single site you can place ur own LoRa gateway and provide connectivity. ISP’s will deliver LoRa connectivity too, this can interfere with your local configuration. From a economic perspective this will be more cost-efficient and it will save battery power on the endpoints.
  • With 5G we can theoretical go up to 10Gbps, when we use LTE-M we can deliver 256Kbps in a bigger coverage area than 5G can. Because of the very low frequency 1.4Mhz – 20Mhz we can provide connectivity within a building or even underground. As a benefit LTE-M or Cat-M1 delivers TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption and certificates. It is bi-directional and has a always-connected state with a latency of 50 to 100ms. This means we can provide connectivity for low bandwith applications or remote monitoring, in fact we can even deliver voice calls. It is however a licensed band and will only be made available by Internet Service Providers, LTE-M is very easy to deploy for an ISP because it works on cell technology. I believe LTE-M has a very good position to be the prefered technology to create an IoT an platform.
  • For any company that want to avoid digging in the streets and prevent cabling costs for connecting Coax or fiber technology for internet access, 5G technology will be perfect way to provide internet access in a wide area and enable high bandwidth. Compared to 4G technology the internet service providers do need to create a higher density of 5G cell towers to deliver the same coverage as with 4G.

In the coming months or years we will see how the technology evolves, companies do have to combine Wi-Fi with any frequency band of choice which is fit for their use case. Later this year i will hopefully join the Certified Wireless Solutions Administrations (CWSA) bootcamp during WLPC_EU in Prague and discuss my view on things with other people.

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