This is another apples VS oranges type question, that deserves a few lines!
CBRS is a Spectrum band/rule, not a technology. The USA CBRS spectrum is BC48 in the 3GPP table, with additional specifications around the spectrum administration, including the SAS, rules of engagements, and installation practices. Although the FCC has not assigned any specific technology to the CBRS band, the CBRS ecosystem is mostly 3GPP LTE technology. The LTE BC48 ecosystem is already impressive and keeps on growing. Most LTE handsets/tablet/PC manufacturers are all already or about to deliver BC48 ready devices. Many IoT type companies are now offering LTE BC48 CBRS devices. Wi-Fi products do not operate on the new CBRS Spectrum.
Spectrum Differences – WI-FI 6 is leveraging the same old Wi-Fi spectrum bands in 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz. Private LTE is available for use on the now available 150 MHz of CBRS spectrum.
Technology Differences – If you want to compare the use of LTE VS Wi-Fi 6 technologies, then the comparison could start to look like this;
- LTE and Wi-Fi 6 use different spectrum but can coexist. Although the different technologies may address different use cases, many of the user devices (UE’s) will be able to leverage both technologies.
- WI-FI 6, like its Wi-Fi predecessors, will continue to be deployed using Wi-Fi bands and mainly indoors. On the other hand, private LTE is achievable in over 70 3GPP bands, including the new CBRS (BC48). Private LTE was designed from the start for indoors and outdoors deployments.
- Wi-Fi 6 will be great for local, short-range capacity augmentation. LTE provides capacity augmentation, locally and over distance. Private LTE in the industrial and mission-critical space also brings to the table a full suite of comprehensive and reliable end-to-end mission-critical QOS and IIOT capabilities.
- LTE brings full mobility and hand-off throughout the entire Radio Access Network (RAN) coverage natively, something to keep in mind as Wi-Fi, including Wi-Fi 6 do not offer full mobility and hand-off.
- I do not think you will see one technology VS the other unless you look at specific use-cases.
- Price difference varies depending on the targeted coverage. As LTE is capable of far greater range and the CBRS spectrum rules allow for far more transmit power, fewer LTE sites are needs for equivalent coverage.
Many enterprise companies plan to deploy comprehensive private LTE on the CBRS spectrum for complete indoor and outdoor coverage to deliver full LTE mobility, range, IIOT, and QoS. Some of these same enterprise companies will also deploy Wi-Fi 6 “hot-spots” to deliver capacity augmentation, very much like you already see today with LTE and Wi-Fi.
What are your thoughts?
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This piece is the result of meetings and discussions with customers, co-workers, and other industry friends, who all share a passion for the wireless technologies and solutions that are at the foundation of the digital transformation of Industry.