This morning at the 4G Wireless Evolution conference in Miami, I gave a talk about how Wi-Fi is going to impact both 3G/4G operators and fixed line operators over the next 2-4 years. The slides are on SlideShare, and here:
I think the reason I’m invited back is I manage to be controversial and since, today, I was given more than an hour all for myself, I attempted to make at least a few provocative points:
- We’re at a wireless tipping point that will dramatically drive up performance of all wireless systems, but Wi-Fi is way ahead of WiMAX or 3G/4G mobile, thus Wi-Fi is where the excitement will be over the next 2-5 years.
- Femtocells will flop. They do provide a way to extend voice coverage into homes that macro cells don’t reach, but they are not efficient for data offload. Since Wi-Fi is efficient for data offload, and it costs less to buy and less to operate, Wi-Fi is will trump Femtocells.
- Wi-Fi is consistently ahead of the 4G community in commercial deployments of “4G technologies.” Specific 4G technologies that Wi-Fi has pioneered include OFDM modulation (802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n), MIMO (802.11n) and beam forming (done via antenna element selection as early as 2002; and done via antenna arrays with on-silicon signal processing under 802.11n, coming to market right now).
- MIMO makes 5 GHz spectrum as useful as 2.4 GHz spectrum or TV spectrum.
- Beam forming via adaptive antenna arrays will dramatically drive up performance (for Wi-Fi beginning now and for WiMAX and LTE some years from now). Beam forming increases range, reduces interference and allows spectrum reuse even in confined areas.
- But with beam forming 5 GHz spectrum becomes more valuable than 2.4 GHz or TV spectrum as shorter wavelengths (at higher frequencies) allow tighter beams.
- As Wi-Fi performance and range increase, it’s becoming useful for broadband wireless service delivery, thus driving down costs and helping fuel rapid growth in the Wireless ISP community. (There are over 2000 WISPs in the US today.)
In my talk, I backed up these statements with data and arguments that may not be clear from the slides alone. If there is any point you don’t agree with or don’t understand, fire away in the comments below and I’ll endeavor to answer within a day or two, or elaborate in a separate blog post.