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The WBA reveals the 5 key requirements for 5G and Wi-Fi 6 convergence

WBA logo.
(Image credit: WBA.)

A new report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) – whose members include Facebook, HPE Aruba, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Swisscom, Telstra and T-Mobile – has revealed five essential building blocks for a successful convergence between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G.

The report, led by Broadcom, Cisco, Intel and Orange, looks at technologies that enable access to 5G services via Wi-Fi. 

“It highlights several critical action areas for industry bodies and operators related to supporting trusted WLAN integration with the 5G core and enabling QoS differentiation for 5G flows over WLAN access,” the WBA announcement explained. “The specific enhancements and suggested actions for the industry are broken down into five distinctive key areas.”

Five key requirements

The organisation says that convergence is critical to enabling new breed of services, applications and experiences such as Industry 4.0, AR/VR, Connected Cities and mobile edge computing. And the report focuses on five critical areas that must be addressed, which are: 

  • 5G and Wi-Fi convergence architecture
  • Multi-access functionality for Access Traffic Steering, Switching and Splitting (ATSSS)
  • End-to-end QoS (Quality-of-Service)
  • Policy Interworking and enhancements across 5G and Wi-Fi
  •  Support for Wi-Fi only devices

The report builds on previous work carried out by the WBA, which covered the benefits and use cases of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G convergence, such as an increase in deployment possibilities and scenarios for operators and access providers; opportunities connected to Industry 4.0; smart city development; the opportunity for fixed wireless access services; and the ability to access 5G services via Wi-Fi only devices.

"The continued development of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 & 6E networks presents almost limitless potential for industry 4.0, residential connectivity, connected smart cities and more."

Tiago Rodrigues, WBA.

“The convergence of Wi-Fi 6 & 6E and 5G is a win-win scenario for end-users, cellular and Wi-Fi players,” said WBA CEO, Tiago Rodrigues. “The continued development of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 & 6E networks presents almost limitless potential for industry 4.0, residential connectivity, connected smart cities and more, but convergence is critical for all parties if we are to truly capitalize on the potential this technology has to offer.”

The path forward

According to the WBA, the paper provides a “path forward for regulators and industry bodies that stands to benefit all”, and will give stakeholders the ability to improve performance and experience in a cost-effective manner.

"End-users and the industry at large stand to gain massively from convergence between Wi-Fi and 5G."

Howard Watson, BT Group.

“Historically, cellular and fixed/Wi-Fi services have been delivered and consumed as independent offerings, limiting the service experience for customers,” said Howard Watson, Chief Technology and Information Officer at BT Group. “With advances in convergence, the dividing lines are beginning to blur, and that’s great news. Customers can increasingly focus on what they use their connectivity for, rather than how it is delivered. End-users and the industry at large stand to gain massively from convergence between Wi-Fi and 5G, but only if we, as operators, infrastructure and device vendors, act together to fully define and deliver these new converged solutions.”

The WBA Board includes AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Broadcom, BT, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, GlobalReach Technology, Google, Intel, KT Corporation, Reliance Jio, SK Telecom and Viasat. 

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.