We connect to wifi in our homes, offices, public spaces, and more on our smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Wifi is reliable, but it’s over 20 years old. The promise of faster downloads and streaming with 5G has end consumers and the telecom industry buzzing.

But, 5G is not replacing wifi.

These two technologies are headed for a convergence, a symbiotic partnership, not a collision. The relationship is going to have to be complementary to meet the demands of an increasingly connected world.

Currently, the majority of wireless traffic takes place on wifi networks. That will continue with over 50% of global IP traffic still on wifi by 2021 according to the Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast. But, both wifi and 5G have integral roles in the future of connectivity:

  • Wifi is suited for fixed and high bandwidth traffic. What it lacks in range it makes up for with reliability, and cost efficiency.
  • Cellular makes short and frequent connections. We need to continue to build upon coverage with densification practices like DAS (distributed antenna system) and small cell, enabling higher throughput with newer technologies like 5G.

Both wifi and 5G will work together to provide increasingly complete coverage for connected device users, from smartphones to smart meters.

The relationship between 5G and wifi is evolving

One Sitetracker customer, Intersection — a company that delivers connectivity, information, and content to elevate the urban experience — installed smart kiosks. They did this by replacing thousands of phone booths in our nation’s largest and busiest city, New York. This ambitious project supplies wifi, charging, directions, and other amenities to the entire city. With 7,500 kiosks needing to be installed and 450 tasks to complete each one, Intersection needed a robust yet user-friendly, full lifecycle platform and chose Sitetracker for their project management needs.

It is these types of projects that will continue to extend wifi into the public sphere. But wifi cannot handle increasing capacity demands alone. Kiosks like these must work in tandem with a strong cellular network. Wifi provides a connection for stationary needs, but a strong cell signal must be present to keep us connected on the move. The Internet of Things is going to fundamentally change the way we depend on wifi and cellular connectivity. We will have faster throughput for streaming and will be more connected to our cities than ever before with real-time public transit schedules and traffic flow optimization.

Even with wifi and 5G working in tandem, there is much work to be done as infrastructure has to be deployed to support network demands.

Infrastructure is the backbone of connectivity

Wifi isn’t going away and 5G is going to be a new and different challenge. The continued need for network densification with small cell and DAS installations is crucial for the success of 5G. Wifi kiosk projects and other smart city initiatives like smart meters require a high volume of infrastructure projects. In short, in order for these technologies to reach their potential, a lot of infrastructure work has to be done.

To take advantage of the evolving relationship between wifi and 5G, you’re service providers need to effectively manage both types of projects. To ensure that wifi and 5G work hand-in-hand to deliver the connectivity a changing world demands, organizations executing these projects must invest in the operational infrastructure necessary to move these projects forward. When you can do so, you’ll become the go-to provider, so your reputation and success will compound. Are you ready to see how industry-leading businesses are seizing opportunities in this new era of connectivity?

Sitetracker is the industry leading high volume project and asset management platform. Learn what is takes to deploy the infrastructure necessary to support 5G advancement.

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