How are Wi-Fi and Cellular Connectivity different, and how to augment the microcellular network

Posted by Aakriti Pandey on Jun 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

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So it’s no news that we live and breathe in digital age - and our accessibility of almost everything at our fingertips makes the world super close-knit and smaller than it is. We work in an age where we have access to almost absolutely anything on demand. We are no longer the prisoners of our own work desks, tied by the cord connected to a wall-outlet. The mobility we get with laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearables gives us freedom.

Wi-Fi and Cellular data have been our two best friends for a while now. But how are they different when they both meet the same needs - one mostly indoors and other mostly outdoors?

While Wi-Fi and Cellular connectivity are two main ways of getting access to the mobile broadband, they sure have distinctions. Here are some:


Spectrum is one prime difference between these two avenues of connectivity. Wi-Fi that we use are connected using the unlicensed spectrum of 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, which are unlicensed and shared. However, Cellular connectivity are run on licensed spectrums which are leased by cellular carriers from the FCC, and only lets the customers in their network to access it.


Wi-Fi connects to a router, which is then managed by the IT department in the enterprise environment, and directly by the Internet Service Provider in the residential environment. Cellular data doesn’t need connection to any hardware equipment, instead, it connects directly to the carrier’s network, as long as the device is within the coverage area of the macro cellular network.


Wi-Fi has a very small range of coverage. In the enterprise environment, the coverage is augmented by strategically placing and spreading the ‘boosters’ across different parts of the facility, it is still limited in coverage. Cellular connections, on the other hand, connections on cellular network are accessible everywhere that the carriers have their macro coverage in.


Wi-Fi in general, gives fairly decent network security, providing how locked down your network is. This is all dependent on the router model, it’s settings, and on who’s managing it. Enterprise Wi-Fi, managed well in house by the internal IT can be very secure - more secure than the cellular connections. However, Public Wi-Fi that is accessed in Coffee shops, Hotel Lobby, and Public locations can jeopardize the privacy as they’re mostly likely to be insecure.


That’s understanding the two types of connectivity - but they aren’t distinct. In fact, they’re stronger together - and to augment it further, which is getting crucial by the day as we ready ourselves to welcome the rush of IoT (Internet of Things), it’s pivotal for everyone to work together to make connectivity omnipresent. And as strong as it can be.


While the anticipation of IoT is putting a ton of pressure on the Network Carriers to strengthen their macro network, which in turn, is bringing 5G to the world, it is also the responsibility of every building owner, property manager, and businesses to solidify and strengthen the in-building wireless connections. Every working professional in the enterprise environment, and every individual in general, is highly mobile and highly connected. Everyone owns more than 4 devices in average now, and all devices are always ‘connected’. A solid network backbone on the macro environment, and a sturdy in-building wireless in the micro level is already due yesterday! Whether it is DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems), or Small Cells (commonly referred to for Femtocells, Picocells, Microcells, Metrocells), or Enterprise Wi-Fi - the In-Building Wireless (IBW) needs to grow some muscles in every facility.


DAS is generally the most expensive IBW options, but it is also technology agnostic, is the most strongest, and can handle multiple frequencies.

Small Cells are low-powered, operator-controlled access nodes, and operate in both licensed spectrum, and unlicensed spectrum. 

Enterprise Wi-Fi operate in the unlicensed spectrum, and have been mostly known to be data-centric so far. Some carriers have attempted offering Voice over Wi-Fi, but it isn’t the best technology for real-time applications, or mission-critical applications, as it doesn’t have the QoS (Quality of Service) standard required to run heavy applications like that.

However, the trio really can be the force to augment the IBW and take it to the next level. So in the next generation of network, the connectivity can truly be ubiquitous.


Topics: Commercial WiFi Blog Posts, Cellular Blog Posts

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