5G threatens WiFi – but different than you think…

5G is currently on everyone's lips, expectations of top speeds and new services are high. The next generation of mobile networks seems to be an all-rounder, promising high speeds, low latency and almost limitless capacities. Some even ask whether 5G can be dangerous for WiFi. But the truth is, that nobody can be interested in that.

Any user knows, his mobile phone most of the time is connected to a WiFi, either at home, at work or in hotspots in between like in cafés or shops. Figures show, that most of the time, smartphones are not connected to the mobile network but to a WiFi.

The more data mobile networks must handle, the more expensive the network expansion and maintenance will be

According to Cisco’s VNI (external link), in 2017 54 percent of mobile data traffic was offloaded to fixed networks mainly through WiFi networks, and the company expects this figure to reach 59 percent in 2022, which is a tremendous growth rate, given the overall amount of data traffic will grow exponentially. “Mobile offload” exceeded cellular traffic by a significant margin in 2017 already, the VNI points out.

No network operator wants this to change, for obvious reasons:

The more data mobile networks must handle, the more expensive the network expansion and maintenance will be. But this is where the danger lies: If 5G delivers what it promises, customers will have a perfect user experience on the move in an intelligent, fast network. Why should they accept weak WiFi, dropouts or high latency at home and not stay in the 4G or 5G network?

The goal must therefore be to make the WiFi as fast as possible and as intelligent as possible so that the user experience at home is the same as on the go.

This can be best achieved through the combination of the latest generation of PLC with the latest Mesh and Smart WiFi features. Using the second generation of G.hn chips as base for a PLC backbone, devolo’s Magic series for example not only secures WiFi coverage across the entire home. According to a calculations from devolo, nearly nine out of ten PLC-based network connections will be able to run a high-speed 4k VR (80 Mbps) video device on PLC-backed Wi-Fi.

Moreover, with the expansion of Smart WiFi functionalities, e.g. by integrating the 802.11r standard, and additional mechanisms like Config Sync the user experience will futher improve, as the network step by step becomes more intelligent, convenient and above all self-managing.

devolo Powerline Adapter Magic 2 WiFi Starter Kit in Kreisen und WLAN-Welle

3 questions for: Sebastian Richter, Director Product Management Home Networking

Sebastian Richter

What’s the reason for the 5G hype?

Because 5G is a logical step in a world where everything will be connected to anything and data volumes will explode. 5G is promising but it is not a miracle network and it won’t be around for quite a while. And it should not be seen that 5G competes with home networking.

Sebastian Richter

So 5G isn’t an issue in home networking?

Not to our understanding. We’ve had the discussion with 3G and 4G already and now, some of the questions are raised again. We see 5G and WiFi as complementary, especially when you think of upcoming enhancements like WiFi 6.

Sebastian Richter

The future for home networking is WiFi then?

PLC and WiFi, yes. With the current G.hn-based products we established a strong backbone for a smart WiFi and we see opportunities for further development with future generations of technology. Particularly with regard to a reasonable price/performance ratio, 5G is not a sensible alternative in home networking.