Dialogic Blog

Do We Really Need 5G Right Now?

by Jim Machi

May 30, 2017 9:04:00 AM

Last week, I wrote about how great of a tool the Cisco VNI is for mobile trend analysis and how it might not be best to use as THE ONLY definitive future forward-looking mobile trend predicter. The reason I really started looking at the Feb 2017 report, though, was because I wanted to see what it said about WiFi offload. I just went off on a tangent last week.  This week, I return to the topic of WiFi offload.

do we need 5g

My thesis has been that if WiFi offers lower costs for operators (who willingly support WiFi offload), then why do they not support this even more, as opposed to spending money on 5G?  And what is 5G anyway? (Specs are not done yet.) If the service providers spend much more money on RAN infrastructure upgrades to 5G, then will this actually be better for their subscribers than spending likely less money on supporting WiFi offload?  Their costs would go down and subscriber costs could also potentially go down. 

Or better yet, if their pipe costs went down, they could spend more money on other value-added areas for their subscribers.  Right now, just spending money on making better pipes will surely make them into the bit-pipe providers they say they don’t want to be.

According to the Cisco VNI, in 2016, 60% of mobile traffic was offloaded to WiFi, with expectations to grow to 63% by 2021.  And also, according to the Cisco VNI, WiFi offload is higher on 4G networks (some have theorized it would be lower since 4G offers better speeds so people wouldn’t bother to offload) because of the data CAPS imposed by the service providers. 

WiFi hotspots are also expected to grow 6x to 541 million by 2021.  So it’s just a thought to think this through fully. 

Is 5G really necessary right now?  Is it a money pit?  Might there be other options?  And what as a service provider do you really want to be?

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Topics: 3G, 4G, 5G, and WiFi