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4/12/2019 | 3:20:53 AM
Wi-Fi/5G convergence is really about the HOW
Mike - it's a good post. A few comments: Remember that what Boingo & Charter (and generally the carrier ecosystem) represents a very small percentage of the overall Wi-Fi industry. Sometimes folks forget that when talking about big names. Secondly: The question of Wi-Fi / 5G convergence is good one and we had the same qustion discussed (for endless years, it seems) on Wi-Fi / 3G / 4G convergence. Convergence seems to be something that won't go away, despite the fact that it has (thus far) been largely unsuccessful. I would say that convergence in general runs counter to how most markets develop - after all, most markets don't converge, they diverage (Wi-Fi btw is an excellent example how markets branch out and diverge). The companies that want convergence are mostly carriers or companies who make a living working with carriers (like Boingo).

Now, convergence is not undesirable. But it depends on HOW. The 'best' kind of convergence (the kind that will generally promote the Wi-Fi industry rather than break it down) is the kind where (most of if not all) of the convergence happens at the device-end by aggregation, multipath TCP, etc. This will make the user experience better (gapless) and (hopefully if done right) make use of all of the Wi-Fi already out there - and it will promote usaage and foster growth in Wi-Fi. The 'bad' kind of convergence (as I see it) is the kind that wants to take over the unlicensed bands with 5G (dejá vu, anyone?) or somehow try to force the Wi-Fi industry into being subservient to mobile (don't worry, that one won't happen).

Infrastructure mobile/Wi-Fi convergence (e.g. small cells with Wi-Fi APs or unlicensed mobile) has been largely unsuccessful. It's hard to see how it would be successful in 5G. 5G is not making anything easier - and they've got their work cut out for them getting the mobile part right first - that will take a number of years.

So the devil is in the detail. My best bet is that (thankfully!) device-side convergence is likely to happen also because it is the most efficient. 

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