NGMN, WBA join forces on 5G/Wi-Fi convergence

24 Jan 2019

The NGNM Alliance and Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) have joined forces to drive the convergence of multi-technology radio access and core networks.

The two industry bodies have published a joint report into emerging opportunities and use cases arising from the convergence of 3GPP 5G and Wi-Fi standards, driven by the ever-enhancing capabilities of licensed and unlicensed wireless technologies.

According to the report, convergence at a network level between 5G and Wi-Fi is important to ensuring that the complementary capabilities of both RANs can be combined to provide seamless network services.

The 3GPP has already developed specifications to ensure tight integration of 3GPP with non-3GPP radio technologies such as Wi-Fi, and the in-development 3GPP Release 16 enhances capabilities for Wi-Fi integration in 5G networks.

But the report also identifies a number of challenges that will need to be overcome, including the enablement of Wi-Fi only devices to connect to the 5G core, and the development of an interface to enable adequate network manageability and policy control between 5G core and Wi-Fi networks.

“Convergence of 5G and Wi-Fi can potentially bring major benefits to cellular operators, enterprise Wi-Fi and public Wi-Fi solution providers, giving access to 5G and enterprise services from both Wi-Fi and 5G access networks.” NGMN Alliance CEO Dr Peter Meissner said.

“However, in order to realize service and network convergence, we have worked with the WBA to identify a number of requirements that must first be satisfied. This is particularly true in the enterprise and Public Wi-Fi space, where there is a demand from cellular operators for a standardized solution for improved visibility and control in the configuration and management of Wi-Fi access networks.”

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