For the 5G ecosystem and infrastructure to be as ubiquitous and effective as the world would like it to be, it will need to have all platforms and technologies as tightly integrated as possible. That means that independently developed technologies, such as Wi-Fi, will have to be coupled into the main core of 5G. There are others, but Wi-Fi serves as a good example because it is pervasive, mainstream and well understood. And it can serve as a model for other emerging or even established platforms.
The rush to push 5G out has had a detrimental effect on a variety of elements. One casualty was the failed effort between the IEEE and the 3GPP to weave Wi-Fi into the core of 5G. Being the suspicious type, (and a senior/life member of the IEEE) I think the cellular industry had something to do with this.
Knowing the IEEE as well as I do, I know they do not have ulterior motives or hidden agendas when it comes to technology. The IEEE’s purpose is, simply, to make the technology the best it can be. It works very diligently to put the best standards out there and their bottom line is to advance technology.
That said I believe the cellular industry had put pressure on the 3GPP in their talks with the IEEE. Why? Because the cellular industry wants the unlicensed space for their own use. Cellular operators have never been fans of Wi-Fi, and only got on board because finally figured out there is money to be made in unlicensed – if not directly, indirectly, by tying free, unlicensed platforms to paid services they offer. (Examples exist, but discussion of that is too lengthy here. A web search can turn up a number of discussions about this).
While not related to Wi-Fi, a similar case existed with autonomous vehicles. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) had just about become the standard until the cellular industry got wind of the fact that there was money to be made in this arena (read my missive about this here.) They came out with C-V2X because they realized it is another opportunity to monetize cellular frequencies. There really is no good reason for C-V2X to exist, other than, perhaps, a backup system. However, the two are not compatible so that point is, somewhat, moot.
The Wi-Fi 3GPP game smells a lot like this to me. Wi-Fi has moved ahead of 3GPP in the commercial millimeter wave space, and it is host-neutral. The cellular players never liked the neutral host concept but were forced to accept it.
The main driver for the failed talks has to do with the fact that the cellular industry wants the unlicensed spectrum – pure and simple. There is an interesting, although a bit dated, discussion around the basic issues from Maravedis; however, the fundamental issues remain fairly consistent.
I get that the cellular industry has the primary infrastructure for the mobile segment of 5G. And there is no doubt that they will be the major player in the 5G ecosystem. However, independent platforms such as Wi-Fi are part of the 5G ecosystem and should not be treated as redheaded stepchildren.
The cellular operators have a history of breaking bad. They have been fined, repeatedly, for nefarious activities. And they do not seem to learn. However, 5G is much too important of a paradigm shift to let greed dictate policy.
The 3GPP players need to go back to the IEEE and listen to what they have to say about building core competencies, for all technologies, not just Wi-Fi, into this next wireless ecosystem.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, Lucent Technologies, , Qwest, City and County of Denver, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner. He is a senior/life member of the IEEE, the Press Liaison for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and a member of the IEEE Communications Society, IEEE MTT Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and the IEEE 5G Community. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: [email protected], or [email protected]