New wireless technologies continue to develop and grow in their impact as they become more widespread. WiFi6 and 5G are part of the latest wave in developing wireless technologies and both technology platforms will continue to be deployed. The important thing you need to know as a cabler is, both technologies need more cabling than ever. So the question is, are you prepared?
5G and WiFi6 have a key role to play in the next iteration in the evolution of wireless technologies. Both will continue to exist and overlap, and both need cabling expertise as the demand for wireless continues to grow.
“5G” is the overarching term used for Fifth-Generation mobile network technology. 5G mobile technology will offer users an enhanced level of service, with higher broadband speeds and low latency. It will continue to use the frequency spectrum that has been bid on, and subsequently licensed by, the government. The spectrum used for mobile communications in Australia is: 700MHz, 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 23000MHz and 26000MHz. This spectrum is currently used for the 3G and 4G network and will, over time, be used by the 5G network. This is known as the “low to mid-band spectrum”.
In addition to the existing spectrum, 5G also uses “millimeter band” spectrum from 20GHz to 70GHz. This allows download speeds to reach into the gigabits per second, but the reach of this signal is reasonably short and will not effectively penetrate buildings. To compensate for the shorter reach and limited penetration, small cells are installed both outside and inside buildings to provide sufficient coverage at these higher speeds. These cells are generally connected to the carrier network via Cat 6A and fibre cabling.
Each mobile base station is connected to the carrier’s network and forms part of the carrier’s 5G network. As the cell size is reduced, the total amount of mobile base stations will need to be increased. This results in more cabling work being required to to link the base stations back to the carrier’s network. When run inside buildings, this cabling will be Cat 6A and fibre.
As WiFi evolves it is becoming faster and offering improved services, but, unlike the 5G network, it operates on a part of the spectrum that can be used by anyone, free of charge, referred to as a “class license”. The class license is the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) class license 2015. At this point in time, current WiFi standards use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. It should be noted that the 2.4GHz band is also used by common household items such as garage door remote controls, microwaves, Bluetooth devices, some cordless phones and much more, so 2.4Ghz WiFi may be subject to interference from these devices if they are present. In addition, as the number of WiFi devices, wireless access points and WiFi extenders increases, the WiFi performance is adversely affected.
The WiFi Alliance is also working on using higher frequencies in the millimeter wave range as this will support higher data rates, just like in the case of 5G. The problem with these higher frequencies is that they cannot penetrate walls as easily, so a single Wireless Access Point (WAP) per residence will not provide the coverage required throughout the entire house.
The solution is to increase the total number of wireless access points inside the house. They’re each connected to the modem by cat 6A cable and allow each WAP to provide high speed access in a zone of the house. These WAPs will transmit using less power, reducing potential interference between WAPs and providing the coverage needed within each room of the residence. For the TSB-162-A guideline it’s recommended that cablers run two Category 6A cables to each WAP location in every room.
So if you are talking to your customer and they want to go completely wireless, make sure they are aware that a fast and reliable wireless solution needs to be supported by a quality wired network, installed by a registered cabler. If not, their wireless speeds and functionality may be compromised.