5G and Wi-Fi 6 integrated wireless communication solution
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5G and Wi-Fi 6 integrated wireless communication solution

Posted Date: 2024-02-02

5G and Wi-Fi are communication technologies developed for different application needs. They seem to target different markets and needs, but in fact they are complementary to each other. If 5G and Wi-Fi technologies can be combined, 5G will be able to take advantage of and Wi-Fi technology's respective advantages, and use this to expand application areas and markets. This article will introduce you to the latest developments in 5G and Wi-Fi technology and the application model of 5G CPE (Customer Premises Equipment), as well as related solutions launched by Arrow Electronics, Nordic and other companies.

Complementary combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 wireless communications

Wi-Fi is a local area network (LAN) mainly used indoors. It can operate in unlicensed frequency bands to form a dedicated network. It is a very common wireless communication technology, while the cellular network is used by major operators and is a A wide area network (WAN) that can be used indoors and outdoors and is typically used for long-distance communications.

Wi-Fi 6, which is currently being widely promoted, is based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard. Its capacity is 4 times higher than that of the previous generation, latency is reduced by 75%, and its speed is almost three times that of its predecessor Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 also has network It has network functions that enable local roaming, and its low power consumption makes it suitable for battery-powered devices. Wi-Fi networks are currently the simplest and most ubiquitous networking technology, and almost every home and office has a Wi-Fi device connected to a broadband service.

However, Wi-Fi 6 devices need to use access points that are compliant with the Wi-Fi 6 standard to get the full speed, latency, and capacity improvements. There are currently two standards on the market, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. Both are the same 802.11ax standard, but have different operating frequencies. Wi-Fi 6 uses the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, while Wi-Fi 6E Using the 6 GHz frequency band, the latest Wi-Fi 7 is the 802.11be standard and will be commercially available in 2024.

5G network is the latest cellular technology and will provide 50 times higher speed, 10 times lower latency and 1,000 times higher capacity than 4G/LTE. This means 5G will be able to connect more devices and transmit more data than ever before, providing fast connections and significantly enhanced user experience.

The two communication technologies, Wi-Fi and 5G, will be able to provide complementary functions. In terms of user experience, both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 can achieve gigabit speeds and low latency. Because Wi-Fi is cheaper to deploy, maintain, and expand (especially as access points need to serve more users), it will continue to be the dominant technology in home and enterprise environments. This provides powerful support for dozens of data-hungry devices, such as PCs, tablets, smartphones, streaming devices, televisions, and printers, all of which must be connected to the network. Because 5G has longer range, it will be used for mobile connections such as smartphones. It will also be used for connected cars, smart city deployments, and even large manufacturing operations.


Source: Infiniti HK

Powering the future of IoT and edge devices

The two technologies, 5G and Wi-Fi, each handle network management in different ways. Wi-Fi does not use licensed spectrum, and everyone can have their own Wi-Fi network without obtaining a license to use it. However, this may mean that your Wi-Fi performance will be affected by the number of other users using their network on the same channel at the same time as you. When used in offices and other enterprise environments, Wi-Fi is often tightly managed to meet required performance goals. 5G and LTE networks are typically managed by carriers and use dedicated licensed spectrum that requires a subscription fee to access. Like LTE, 5G performance will depend on your distance from the base station and signal quality.

Because 5G offers huge performance improvements, service providers can offer consumers another option for bringing broadband connectivity into their homes, via 5G's wireless broadband. This is an area where 5G will likely compete with cable or fiber products. However, Wi-Fi will continue to be the most efficient way to connect an increasing number of devices in the home, including PCs, tablets, smartphones, smart speakers, home security cameras, thermostats and appliances, all over Wi-Fi connect.

Some of the most exciting applications for 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will involve the Internet of Things (IoT), where enterprises can choose the wireless technology that best suits their needs and still get the high capacity, fast speeds and low latency they need to ensure Devices can share data quickly and more reliably. For example, machine-to-machine communication plays a key role in factory automation. While Wi-Fi 6 may be suitable for managing manufacturing operations, 5G may enhance manufacturing environments on large campuses.

5G CPE is a client device with a 5G radio frequency module that can convert 5G/4G signals into an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. It is a powerful combination of wireless devices. Converting signals through 5G CPE will facilitate the application and connection of various existing devices to a more convenient 5G network, such as configuration screens, cameras, programmable controllers (PLCs), industrial instruments, and laptops , tablets, robots, sensing devices, data collectors, servers, etc.

5G CPE will trigger the "low-power WiFi 6" needs of terminal nodes by creating an ecosystem. For example, thanks to the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 low-power end nodes, Wi-Fi 6 brings a series of features that will make Wi-Fi devices more energy-efficient when communicating, such as a feature called "Target Wake Time" (or "TWT"). ”) feature, which enables Wi-Fi routers and IoT devices to schedule communications in advance to reduce unnecessary time spent in idle listening mode, thereby reducing power consumption. It also means that Wi-Fi IoT device radios can take advantage of one of wireless IoT’s most proven ultra-low power strategies, which is to spend as much time as possible in sleep mode. As a result, Wi-Fi 6 will be able to combine higher channel bandwidth, more efficient signal transmission and multiple antennas to provide better performance in crowded wireless environments.

Highly integrated 5G CPE reference design

In order to speed up customers' development of 5G CPE products, Arrow Electronics provides a 5G CPE reference design, which is a CPE reference design developed by Arrow Electronics based on Qualcomm (Qualcomm) X62 5G modem and Wi-Fi 6 chip. The main chip IPQ5018 contains two 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 cores up to 1GHz and integrates the 802.11ax Wi-Fi subsystem. This solution uses a low-cost, high-speed AX3000 router solution, plus a 5G module made of Qualcomm X62, to achieve Wi-Fi Signal conversion between Fi 6 and 5G modules.

The core devices used in 5G CPE include Qualcomm IPQ5018, Qualcomm QCN6012, Qualcomm QCA8337A, and are paired with Qualcomm X62 5G Sub 6 GHz module suitable for IoT applications.

Qualcomm X62 can provide a maximum downlink rate of 3.5 Gbps and an uplink rate of 900 Mbps under 5G. It is suitable for IoT applications that require high data throughput and can be widely used in homes, offices, outdoor travel, events, factories, parks and other places.

Wi-Fi 6 solution supporting Matter protocol

In fact, Wi-Fi is also an important part of the smart home Matter protocol advocated by Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and hundreds of other consumer IoT companies. Wi-Fi 6 can easily form a smart home/building ecosystem and It adds Wi-Fi to its product series through 5G CPE combined with 5G connectivity to the cloud.

Nordic has launched its dual-band Wi-Fi 6 nRF7002 supporting IC, which supports the use of the Wi-Fi 6 protocol in the Matter protocol and can be used in various high-speed wireless networks and low-power IoT sensors and devices. Nordic supports all three wireless protocols used in Matter. Namely: Bluetooth LE (for debugging), Thread (for low-power mesh networks), and Wi-Fi (for high-speed wireless networks and low-power IoT sensors and devices).

The nRF7002 is the first device in Nordic's unique Wi-Fi portfolio and will be seamlessly integrated with Nordic's existing ultra-low power technology. Nordic brings decades of ultra-low-power wireless IoT and chip design expertise to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6 will bring more advantages to IoT applications, including further improving efficiency, supporting long life, battery Powered Wi-Fi operation.

The nRF7002 is a "companion IC" that provides seamless Wi-Fi connectivity and Wi-Fi-based positioning (SSID probing of local Wi-Fi hubs) when used with Nordic's existing products. These include the nRF52® and nRF53® series of multi-protocol systems-on-chip (SoCs), and the nRF91® series of cellular IoT system-in-package (SiP). To communicate with the host, the SPI or QSPI interface can be used, and additional coexistence capabilities allow seamless coexistence with other protocols such as Bluetooth, Thread or Zigbee. The nRF7002 can also be used with non-Nordic host devices to maximize application and network flexibility and ease of use.

Nordic also launched the nRF7002 DK, a development kit for the nRF7002 Wi-Fi 6 companion IC, which contains everything needed to start development on a single board. The development kit uses the nRF5340 multi-protocol SoC as the host processor of the nRF7002, supporting the development of low-power Wi-Fi applications and supporting Wi-Fi 6 functions such as OFDMA, beamforming and target wake-up time.

Conclusion

The combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6, two wireless communication technologies, uses 5G CPE to receive and convert signals. It will be able to give full play to the advantages of both technologies and provide low-power solutions for a wide range of IoT applications. . The Arrow Electronics 5G CPE reference design and Nordic Wi-Fi 6 nRF7002 supporting IC introduced in this article will speed up the development of customer-related products. If you want to know more details and information, please contact Arrow Electronics directly.


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