5G + Wi-Fi + IoT Convergence: Opening Up a New Blue Ocean for Enterprise Wireless

5G + Wi-Fi + IoT Convergence: Opening Up a New Blue Ocean for Enterprise Wireless

In China, it is common to use 5G for outdoor coverage and Wi-Fi indoors. Indeed, both 5G and Wi-Fi are the most popular wireless access technologies today.

5G has been widely praised for its high bandwidth, low latency, and low jitter, while Wi-Fi - especially Wi-Fi 6 - has seen huge uptake in the individual and enterprise markets.

Typically, consumers prefer indoor Wi-Fi and outdoor 5G to meet their connectivity needs, and the fact that smart terminals can automatically connect to Wi-Fi enables many users to experience ubiquitous wireless.

Today, many organizations are moving toward "wireless-first," where wireless will be the favored mode for connecting users and devices, as well as underpinning a host of network-enabled IT and OT services. Thanks to the widespread use of Wi-Fi 6, many enterprises have built ubiquitous Wi-Fi networks in their workplaces and even production environments. Meanwhile, leading vendors have unveiled their future-proof wireless solutions. Huawei, for example, launched its fully-wireless intelligent cloud campus network solution that builds on AirEngine series APs with built-in Wi-Fi 6 Advanced technology. This solution can help enterprises of all sizes to construct a fully-wireless network without blind spots or packet loss during roaming.

However, when employees are outside the campus, access to internal campus resources becomes an issue. In stark contrast to consumers that focus on network connectivity, enterprises are more concerned with service availability and security. Enterprise employees yearn for easy access to internal network resources even when using 5G.

As mentioned, 5G is preferred outdoors. If enterprises can add 5G in areas lacking Wi-Fi coverage, users will enjoy consistent network permissions and experience, no matter whether they use 5G or Wi-Fi. This would take enterprise wireless experience to all-new levels.

With this in mind, Huawei and China Telecom Shaanxi Telecom jointly innovated and proposed a "5G + Wi-Fi + IoT" converged campus network solution. This future-proof solution provides high-quality continuous wireless coverage for industries such as healthcare, education, and industrial parks. Users can securely access office and production systems anytime, anywhere. Other benefits include unified access of diverse IoT endpoints and centralized network management.

The "5G + Wi-Fi + IoT converged campus network solution offers many stand-out features, including:

  • Unified planning: Resources such as optical cables and power supplies are planned in a unified manner, which facilitates one-off deployment and smooth evolution. Similarly, 5G, Wi-Fi, and IoT networks are centrally planned, achieving optimal wireless signal coverage, ultimate user experience, and minimal costs.
  • Flexible construction: 5G, Wi-Fi, and IoT networks are constructed separately or in an integrated manner, according to requirements. One-off deployment drives down construction costs by more than 50%. Plus, IoT technologies such as RFID, Bluetooth, and ZigBee are converged, simplifying IoT management and creating the most cost-effective converged IoT network.
  • Unified authentication: By using 5G real-name authentication, users can securely access the internal network and cloud applications without a password, whether inside or outside the campus. Other benefits include multi-network unified authentication, consistent access policies, easy source tracing, seamless switching between 5G and Wi-Fi, free mobility, and consistent experience anytime, anywhere.
  • Unified O&M: The unified campus network O&M platform implements unified management across the entire campus network. Plus, this platform enables visualized, manageable, and controllable topologies, faults, connections, and experience.

This innovative solution is purpose-built for a converged network of 5G, Wi-Fi, and IoT. To elaborate, Wi-Fi is deployed inside buildings, 5G Pico Remote Radio Units (pRRUs) are installed in heavy-traffic areas, and 5G macro base stations are rolled out outdoors to construct a ubiquitous "5G + Wi-Fi" indoor and outdoor service network. Additionally, the "5G + Wi-Fi" converged authentication system enables unified authentication across 5G and Wi-Fi networks. In this way, users can securely access the internal enterprise network without a password, through Wi-Fi inside the campus and 5G outside.

On the "5G + Wi-Fi" service network, Wi-Fi APs are fitted with IoT cards, and 5G is equipped with 5G IoT gateways. This fully meets unified access of diverse IoT endpoints such as RFID, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, simplifying IoT management and implementing three-network convergence. With these traits, the solution helps enterprises of all sizes build the most cost-effective converged IoT network and gain a foothold in emerging 5G IoT markets.

So far, this solution has already seen great results in live projects. China Telecom Shaanxi Branch built a "5G + and Wi-Fi" converged campus network for a top-ranked university in Shaanxi. This new network is compatible with legacy Wi-Fi and transcends traditional campus walls, achieving a unified network inside and outside the campus and enabling seamless roaming in all scenarios. In addition, the IoT network is further converged, ultimately delivering "5G + Wi-Fi + IoT" convergence services. As such, the university benefits from asset locating services for their valuable assets, ensuring precise asset locating and tracing.

In terms of operation models, China Telecom Shaanxi Branch has launched many standardized offerings, including the following:

  • "5G + Wi-Fi" converged packages for students and teachers on campus. Building on the 5G ToC card packages, China Telecom Shaanxi Branch adds many other unique services, such as 5G real-name authentication for seamless Wi-Fi access to campus network resources, and 5G-based access to resources for teachers and students outside the campus. Thanks to this, Shaanxi Telecom has gained a large number of new campus network ToC users.
  • Various services for universities. Featured services include campus planning services, campus network security access authentication services, campus network integration services, campus network management services, and Tianyi Cloud services.

In the future, the "5G + Wi-Fi + IoT" converged campus network solution will bring new value to more industries and extend from office campuses to production campuses. The full potential of this hyper-converged campus network solution will be seen especially in healthcare, large enterprise, manufacturing, port, warehousing, and other scenarios, where it will accelerate industry digital transformation and maximize enterprise digital productivity.

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