Will additional spectrum for Wi-Fi end the indoor spectrum debate?


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I think Sean Kinney did a good job talking about the battle for 6GHz.  He wrote the article in RCR, found here, https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190220/network-infrastructure/fcc-unlicensed-use-6-ghz if you want to read it.

Quick overview:

  • New spectrum to be released is the 6GHz band, which is 5.925GHz to 7.125GHz,
  • That is 1.2GHz of contiguous spectrum being release,
  • Proposed by FCC for unlicensed use in addition to the existing ISM band in the 8GHz spectrum, commonly used for Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi is also used in 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz
  • WiGig is the 60GHz spectrum,
  • 802.11ax should be ratified in 2019, even though devices were released in 2018.

If Wi-Fi gets this spectrum, I don’t see a need for 5G small cells in small businesses. I just see a need to handoff from 5G to Wi-Fi 6. It’s pretty amazing that 1.2GHz of bandwidth will be released to the unlicensed band. However, I also see a way for competitors to arise for Wi-Fi. With all of this spectrum, unlicensed LTE and 5G have plenty of room to coexist. I see this opening more than just Wi-Fi spectrum.

Why not? This is a great opportunity to build more systems in the unlicensed spectrum. I know that security will still be an issue, but look at Wi-Fi, security is less and less of a concern on wireless networks.

Also, by the FCC releasing the 6GHz spectrum to the unlicensed band, it makes the C band much more valuable, doesn’t it? Assuming we will need more spectrum. OK, we always need more spectrum, don’t we? No matter what the FCC releases, the carriers always want more. In fact, everyone wants more. The unlicensed users, new technologies, IOT, Vehicles, and the list goes on.

Did you figure out how 5G will cover indoors? I have questions.

  • Will they need licensed or unlicensed spectrum?
  • Will it have to be 5G ready?
  • Will the carriers be satisfied handing off to Wi-Fi for data like they do now?
  • Will the carriers want to control the signal in the building?
  • Will they use LAA or LWA?
  • Will it be LTE or Wi-Fi or 5G?
  • Will security be an issue?
  • Is the unlicensed spectrum secure?

We need to look at the above items to see how indoor success will happen. Let’s face it, we all see Wi-Fi as being free, and quite frankly it works well for data. Voice is soon becoming data, either as VoLTE or an IOT app. We no longer have to worry about voice needing its own carrier.

However, carriers need to take indoor coverage seriously. They have been lax on this. This became apparent when they no longer wanted to pay for nor support DAS system for small to mid-size businesses. DAS systems are expensive, and the payback is limited. In fact, who will pay for DAS? There is a very limited business model. Building and business owners are now “stuck” with paying and supporting DAS systems. The carriers will support the headend, but not the system. The system will have to be a value add for the property owner or manager. They will need it for security or to attract customers. Hospitals need it to provide coverage for patients and doctors.

Is this one more thing that the PropTech industry will need to pick up? Is this something that building owners need to add? They already have to put in public safety DAS systems. Something that I hear they overlook.

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Public safety DAS is a requirement, yet most property owners miss it. They tend to wait until after everything is ready then the inspector fails because indoor public safety coverage is pathetic at best. Then it costs more and requires messing up the drywall. You get the idea.

However, carrier coverage is not a requirement. Why is that? Most people don’t have access to the emergency bands; they do have cell phones with them most of the time. They call 911 when they are in trouble. Yet, they probably don’t have carrier coverage in many parts of large buildings, do they? Small cells would cover for something like that. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a lot of coordination, working with the carriers is painful at best.

There are many indoor options other than Wi-Fi that I see. Although with 60GHz being released, it should open up new doors.

If Wi-Fi 6 is as good as everyone hyped it up to be, and the FCC adds 1.2GHz of contiguous spectrum, then we should be set in that space for a long time for so many functions. Unless you have a specific application, like IOT or secure private network, why use anything else?

Alternatives:

  • CBRS for private LTE and 5G, although I see this being used for a special purpose, not just data. Maybe secure functions indoors.
  • Licensed spectrum, although this is something
  • Unlicensed LTE, this could be used instead of or in addition to Wi-Fi,
  • Unlicensed 5G, this could be used instead of or in addition to Wi-Fi,
  • Licensed mmwave, this is what the carriers want to use to provide broadband to homes and businesses, so they probably don’t see a cost-effective way to use it for data offloading,

More information:

Thank you for your time to learn something new! Let’s use it today.

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