Tag: network

Private 5G and Wi-Fi 6: Competition or Cooperation? | Blog

While Wi-Fi 6/6E and private 5G technologies each offer advantages in different applications, these next-generation wireless networking technologies can work better together than against one another. Read on to learn how these solutions can complement each other and support enterprises’ technology transformation journeys.

Driven by massively increased device penetration and interconnectedness in recent years, combined with rising investments and research from technology and solutions providers, Wi-Fi 6/6E and private 5G technologies both offer substantial opportunities for enterprise development.

Still in its nascent phase, private 5G is beginning to take off with advancements in this technology particularly prominent across America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, especially in the US, UK, China, and South Korea.

While from a top level, both Wi-Fi 6 and private 5G offer improved network connectivity opportunities and other benefits, the technology types differ in accessibility, licensing, authentication, and use cases. Let’s compare them.

Core differences and suitability

  • Wi-Fi 6/6E – Generally, it is more suited for indoor, smaller-scale wireless networks. Its lower spectrum complexity and relative implementation ease make it a more accessible solution compared to private 5G. Wi-Fi 6/6E’s increased support for internet of things (IoT)-connected devices and high-density wireless traffic make it ideal for venues such as schools, stadiums, and shopping malls. Wi-Fi 6/6E also can be more easily integrated with enterprise management tools in areas such as security, visibility, and analytics
  • Private 5G – It is more suited to outdoor use cases on a larger and more complex scale. Autonomous vehicles, smart cities and factories, and remote healthcare are some of the leading use cases and conversation starters for private 5G at present

In the graphic below, we compare the performance and efficiency of each use case. The blue highlighted sections show the areas where the technology is better suited:

Picture1 4

Advantages each offer

In terms of accessibility and attractiveness, Wi-Fi 6/6E technologies have some clear benefits over private 5G. The spectrum for wireless local-area network (WLAN) technology is less complex than cellular, which may be more attractive to enterprises looking to incorporate one of the technologies to improve their wireless setup.

Wi-Fi 6/6E as a product also is at a later development stage than private 5G. This means highly developed and specialized equipment already is in mass production and readily available, whereas use case specific private 5G options may not be as well-defined. These factors can make it more cost-effective for enterprises using a Wi-Fi 6/6E solution and have an improved return on investment, especially in the short term.

Private 5G’s higher complexity does bring benefits, though. For instance, it can meet the needs of more complex and intensive wireless setups than WLAN technologies and address enterprises’ data privacy concerns around internal data and security better than a Wi-Fi 6/6E network.

How can these technologies synergize?

Both Wi-Fi 6/6E and 5G can act as catalysts for enterprises’ wireless journeys moving forward, and each offer clear benefits and use cases in which they are preferable. But this doesn’t mean they are necessarily rivals. Rather, treating them as complementary solutions can bring more benefits.

Cooperation between Wi-Fi 6/6E and 5G networks can enable innovation and success with IoT growth and edge computing capabilities. Together, the networks will be able to support remote workforces more efficiently and reliably and bolster overall connectivity with speed and flexibility. Businesses engaging in multiple verticals, for example, may find it better to incorporate both options to deal with their network demands at a range of scales.

Recommendations for the short- and long-term

With that said, enterprises may find it beneficial to focus on solutions from Wi-Fi 6/6E offerings in the short term because this more developed technology can provide greater automation benefits, and is more accommodating for stricter budgets – a substantial plus in a recessionary environment.

Private 5G setups then can be incorporated in the longer term when it is better-developed, more affordable, and able to be utilized in a higher range of verticals and use cases. Private 5G-friendly use cases also will mature in the future in segments including mining, manufacturing, and Industry 4.0.

While Wi-Fi 6/6E technologies are increasingly explored in existing applications, private 5G will become prominent for conceptual and transformative use cases. As a result, enterprises, telecommunications providers, and systems integrators may seek to incorporate private 5G technologies as part of their long-term network setups.

Key Factors to Consider

Ecosystem participants have the following critical factors to consider while making decisions about private 5G and Wi-Fi 6/6E:

  • Business and network enterprise heads can look to proactively improve their wireless setups with a view to the longer term and the transformative technologies they plan to invest in. This can be achieved by consulting with service providers to see which technologies will better fit their industry-specific demands and use cases
  • Heads of systems integrators and telecommunications providers can consider the network with cloud and IT as pivotal business initiatives. More specifically, they can investigate treating Wi-Fi6/6E and private 5G options as potentially pivotal in their network decisions. This can allow them to better exploit and benefit from developing network technologies
  • Partnership heads of technology providers can look to extend their offerings of products and services within Wi-Fi 6/6E and private 5G and showcase their ability to meet the industry-specific use case demands of customers across different segments when partnering

While wireless network decisions often can be an afterthought, having a well-planned strategy can benefit an enterprise’s IT setup and overall business. To achieve short-term results and long-term business transformation, the C-Suite should adopt a dynamic network strategy, including next-generation technologies like Wi-Fi 6/6E and private 5G.

To discuss further, please reach out to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

Check out our webinar, Top Emerging Technology Trends: Six Things Sourcing Needs to Know in 2023, for insights on how to stay ahead of emerging technology.

Does AT&T Really Need T-Mobile’s Spectrum? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Even though the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, it is likely that AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and T-Mobile will fight that move in the courts. AT&T has other viable alternatives, and this merger is not as necessary as AT&T would like everyone to believe. Rather, this is an attempt to opportunistically acquire T-Mobile’s AWS (1.7/2.1GHz) and PCS (1.9GHz) spectrum.

First, let’s examine the documents AT&T filed with FCC the about this deal. According to the documentation:

  1. AT&T is facing a network spectrum and capacity strain due to exploding demand for mobile data in certain markets.

    ATT Growth Volume
    Source: AT&T
  2. Performance of its Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks has begun to degrade.
  3. It is unable to deploy new UMTS carriers in certain markets to meet demand.
  4. Its continued support of three generations of network technologies and allocation of spectrum is a challenge. This is preventing it from repurposing existing spectrum for many years.
  5. Its efforts, such as additional spectrum purchases, improvements to UMTS networks, upgrade to Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+), tiered data plans, cell splitting, and network offloading are not enough to keep pace with customer demand.
  6. Construction of new cell sites is becoming increasingly lengthy due to bureaucracy approvals and lack of availability of prime locations in which to build them.
  7. It lacks sufficient 700MHz and AWS spectrum in certain markets to deploy 3GPP Long-Term Evolution (LTE) in all markets.
  8. Migration to LTE will bring more demand to its network, and it will face capacity issues with LTE within a few years.

For these reasons, AT&T believes its customers are facing increased numbers of dropped/blocked calls, network congestion, and performance issues. These issues are detrimental to its customers and shareholders. AT&T thinks that acquiring T-Mobile (its network assets and spectrum, in particular) is the best and most efficient way to overcome the challenges it is facing in the near term. It believes that:

  1. Due to the complementary nature of its and T-Mobile’s technologies, a combination will yield network and spectrum usage efficiency, e.g., by increased cell density and efficient network utilization.
  2. The combination will enable it to gain spectrum to handle incremental growth in UMTS/GSM networks, as it eventually migrates to more efficient LTE networks. AT&T will eventually repurpose the existing GSM and UMTS spectrum towards LTE usage.
  3. The combination of the companies’ spectrum will add 4.8-10 MHz of spectrum in each market through elimination of GSM control channels.
  4. The combined spectrum will enable pooling of channels, which will increase peak capacity.
  5. The acquisition will enable AT&T to increase LTE coverage from 80 percent to 97 percent across the U.S.
  6. The company will gain access to some prime T-Mobile cell sites, to which it would otherwise not have.

Let’s face it: AT&T – indeed all carriers – did not fully anticipate the rapid growth of smart phones and the associated exploding mobile data needs to their 3G networks. With demand on the rise, AT&T is looking to acquire as much spectrum it can for now and the future, as it realizes that whatever company controls the spectrum could control its competition and the industry by limiting the bandwidth available to others to improve or expand new products or services.

However, it appears that AT&T does not face an immediate shortage of spectrum. In fact, it is one of the largest holders of spectrum (including the prime 700MHz spectrum) within the United States.

Source: Sprint/FCC
Spectrum 2
Source: Sprint/FCC


AT&T has currently warehoused 40 MHz of its 700MHz, AWS, and WSC spectrum for future LTE customers (2013 onwards). And Verizon has stated it has spectrum needs up to 2015 from what it possesses today. For $US33 billion (excluding the $6 billion break up fees resulting from the acquisition of T-Mobile), its competitors, such as Sprint, believe AT&T could implement the following to optimize its spectrum utilization:

  1. Manage consumer behavior and usage beyond using tiered pricing, throttling, etc.
  2. Rather than keeping customers and still allowing new subscribers to sign onto plans and use devices utilizing older 2G technology – which is a waste of spectrum resources – incentivize subscribers to move to newer generation technologies. Doing so would enable AT&T to repurpose spectrum used for existing 2G technologies to more efficient 3 and 4G technologies, thus increasing its spectrum usage efficiency. AT&T should look to migrate iPhone users to the newer IPhone5 that uses the more efficient HSPA+.
  3. Use a portion of the 850MHz or 1900 MHz spectrum it already has in certain markets for 700MHz and AWS spectrum for LTE that it currently lacks. This would enable it to meet its target of reaching 97 percent of U.S. markets.
  4. Use its warehoused spectrum to alleviate supply constraints.
  5. Adopt software-defined radio, and move toward increased heterogeneous networks and small cell technology.
  6. Increase the percentage of network data being offloaded. The bulk of usage is still when subscribers are within buildings, and necessarily on the go. Increasing Wi-Fi access in more than the current locations could alleviate its congestion and capacity constraints.
  7. Except in major markets, new cell approvals are not as lengthy or bureaucratic as AT&T claims. Instead of owning cell towers, AT&T could increase leases from tower companies that still have excess capacity.
  8. AT&T could also reach buy/sharing agreements with T-Mobile with respect to T-Mobile’s prime cell towers. This could inject cash into T-Mobile.

When the H, J, AWS-3 blocks of spectrum are auctioned by the government, AT&T will have the opportunity to purchase spectrum. If giving up some of T-Mobile’s prime spectrum is required for this acquisition to go through, I expect AT&T to walk away from the deal or pay substantially less than the current $US39 billion offer price.

Bottom line, AT&T should first consider reorganizing and/or more efficiently using space in its present home before rushing out to buy a new house.

Cloud: The Network Itch | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

During the past several weeks, Everest Group’s ITO team has had multiple debates about the various levers that govern the cloud services industry. The growing consensus has been that service orientations, *aaS (BPaaS, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS), are the strength levers with which the cloud service providers will play. So, for example, a Rackspace (IaaS) will host a Salesforce.com (SaaS) on a Microsoft Azure (PaaS) platform, completing the cloud landscape. Just one glance across the *aaS firmament and the stories appear similar. The cloud portrait seemed complete and nailed to the wall for posterity.

However, a statement by Steve Caniano, VP of AT&T Hosting and Cloud Services – “What is key for us is the ability to leverage the cloud as part of a network service experience – without a network you don’t have a cloud” – took our debates in another direction.

“Without a network you don’t have a cloud”

While the services side of the cloud has dazzled the industry, the infrastructure side – consisting of data centers and network – has seemed dreary. After all, network and storage are considered hygiene requirements for the cloud infrastructure. They also appear to have been relegated to commodities, as both the network and storage markets have experienced intense competitive and pricing pressures. Our feeling is that saying there cannot be a cloud without a network is akin to taunting a Ferrari owner that his or her sports wonder car is no good without Michelin tires. True, the owner may have a momentary nightmare of the beaming red Ferrari’s chassis lying flat on the ground. But it isn’t a real worry, as Bridgestone, Goodyear, and other tire brands are also options. So, can I pat myself on my back and say I nailed this “cloud without a network” debate with this repartee and sign off on this blog?

A growing tribe of telecom firms thinks otherwise. Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T have all recently made big investments in cloud – acquisitions of Terremark and Savvis are still fresh, and AT&T has put up a US$1 billion corpus fund for its cloud initiative. Additionally, the cloud-focused consolidation happening in the telecom industry has coincided with the growing activity in the cloud services industry. The next generation of networks (4G and 5G) have enticed many new cloud initiatives. Apple’s iCloud is an example.

In the debate that ensued within my team on this topic, a colleague reminded that the whole concept of cloud comes from telecommunications, and that public telephony was the first cloud ever. With this legacy in mind, can we assume that control over network and bandwidths will help telecom companies define the rules of the cloud?

Taking this debate external, is network:

  • Just a part of the cloud (and the real money lies with systems integration and advisory)?
  • An enabler of the cloud?
  • The cloud itself?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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