The WBA & NGMN Joint Task Force: RAN Convergence White Paper explores the importance of existing and future Wi-Fi and cellular convergence, highlighting techniques that enable convergence and identifying solutions to bridge technology gaps – critically this is a major step towards realizing the full benefits of the 5G vision enabled by Wi-Fi.

The paper outlines how mobile operators will benefit from the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G by gaining improved visibility into Wi-Fi networks, affording them the ability to control customer experience, deliver better services to customers and provide enterprise Wi-Fi network management solutions to enterprise customers. Wi-Fi operators, meanwhile, will benefit from convergence by gaining improved visibility and transition management as they operate overlapping cellular and Wi-Fi networks, ultimately resulting in an improved user experience. Additionally, enterprise Wi-Fi networks will gain the ability to access operator-provided 5G services.

Previously WBA has outlined the new business opportunities created through the convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G – this paper outlines the ‘how’ at the network and RAN layers, we can enable these opportunities including enterprise use cases, manufacturing, public hotspots and residential applications. We outline how a new set of 5G use cases and verticals will require combined resources from both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. This will provide cost-effective solutions that meet diverse sets of requirements on throughput, latency, connection density, coverage, availability and reliability. This is especially important for smartphones that carry a significant amount of data traffic by accessing Wi-Fi. Convergence of Wi-Fi and 5G will lead to better user experience for smartphone customers and create new business opportunities for both Wi-Fi and mobile operators. As Wi-Fi 6 deployments start to mature, then convergence benefits are manifold and to benefits from the maximum ROI operators will need to address a number of challenges that exist when integrating Wi-Fi and cellular networks in enterprise, residential and public Wi-Fi deployments. In particular, the paper explores the benefits of creating a standardized interface between Wi-Fi and cellular networks to improve end-to-end network performance, elevate user experience and, ultimately, empower both mobile and Wi-Fi operators to create new business opportunities utilizing the converged technologies.

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