White Paper Excerpt

Wi-Fi Offloading, Why? – Chapter 3

Top Five Myths About Wi-Fi

Rumors tend to stay for a long time. It does not help much that strong forces in our industry are trying to spread the old or wrong picture of Wi-Fi technology. This is why we feel obliged to do some “myth-busting” about Wi-Fi.

What used to be stated about Wi-Fi was once upon a time partly correct, but the technology has moved on at an incredible speed since then. New generations of Wi-Fi are coming out at a much faster pace than cellular today. As we’ve just gotten used to the terms Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, vendors are starting to roll out Wi-Fi 7 equipment.

At Enea, we have never understood why there is a fight between Cellular and Wi-Fi. They each have their sweet spots. Cellular radio technology excels when users are outdoors and on the move. Wi-Fi is for indoors, and cellular and Wi-Fi technologies coexist perfectly in the zones in between.

White Paper: Wi-Fi Offloading – Why?

This is an excerpt from our white paper, Wi-Fi Offloading – Why? The full white paper is available here if you like what you read. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Wi-Fi Offloading - Why? White Papåer download

Below, we will address and correct

The Five Most Common Myths about Wi-Fi as Technology

Wi-Fi Myth 1

Myth 1: Wi-Fi is Insecure

“Wi-Fi is insecure; the traffic is not encrypted over the air as in the case of cellular, and users are not securely authenticated and authorized to access the network.” This can be true, but never for Wi-Fi Offloading. As discussed in chapter 1, a prerequisite for Wi-Fi Offloading is that the user is securely authenticated (EAP-based authentication) and authorized for the secure Wi-Fi network that is encrypted over the air (802.1x).

Wi-Fi Myth 2

Myth 2: Wi-Fi is Only Best Effort with a Bad User Experience

This was once true. Previous Wi-Fi generations (e.g., Wi-Fi 4 and 5) were like cocktail parties where everyone talked at the same time; the more people, the greater the challenge to get the message across. As a result, many “re-sendings” of messages were required. The critical parameters for a good user experience, latency and data throughput, quickly deteriorate when you add more users to the same Wi-Fi access point in Wi-Fi 4 and 5.

This degradation does not occur for the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E and Wi-Fi 7 releases because Wi-Fi 6 introduced Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), the same scheduling mechanism used in cellular networks. Today’s Wi-Fi is more like a choir where the conductor decides when a singer can sing. Wi-Fi 6/6E and Wi-Fi 7 brings a deterministic user experience to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is running on an unlicensed spectrum, but unlicensed is also considered for cellular. These are the reasons why Wi-Fi is gaining more respect and acceptance also from 3GPP advocates.

Wi-Fi Myth 3

Myth 3: Devices Tend to Hang onto Bad Wi-Fi Connections

This is true to an extent, but it is now mainly a problem of the past. Like any device, mobile phones can sometimes struggle to switch between networks, especially if the current connection is weak or unstable. This can lead to situations where the phone remains connected to a poor Wi-Fi signal a bit too long rather than switching to a betterperforming network. However, modern smartphones are getting better and better at handling this issue and are designed to constantly evaluate network conditions and switch to better connections when available.

Wi-Fi myth 4

Myth 4: Wi-Fi is Not Seamless

“Wi-Fi means cumbersome onboarding through Captive Portals.” Yes, this is what often meets us in public spaces such as hotels, shopping malls, and airports. But this is not true for Wi-Fi Offloading, where the user is always seamlessly onboarded to the secure Wi-Fi network. Many Wi-Fi hotspots served by captive portals today will also change to seamless onboarding with the advancement of more Wi-Fi networks joining the OpenRoaming federation.

Wi-Fi myth 5

Myth 5: Wi-Fi Networks are Isolated Islands

This was true not so long ago. Since then, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has launched a fast-growing OpenRoaming federation with millions of hotspots globally. For the first time, enterprises and venues can use Wi-Fi to roam with service providers seamlessly.

As discussed later in this White Paper, OpenRoaming may become the “silver bullet” for neutral host Wi-Fi Offloading. (This is also discussed in this post: OpenRoaming – The Silver Bullet for Neutral Host Wi-Fi Offload)

Industry update Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Solutions for mobile / Wi-Fi convergence

As the mobile industry enters a new and much less profitable era, Wi-Fi is growing in importance as an effective, cost-efficient, and necessary complementary solution.

Join this online Wi-Fi Now special event with Cisco, American Bandwidth, and Enea, where we explore all the current convergence offerings and their status.

When: Online Tuesday, July 23 @ 7:00 pm CEST / 10:00 am PDT

Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours including presentations, panel Q&A, and audience Q&A.

Wi-Fi Now spåecial event Mobile/Wi-Fi Convergence soluitions

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