It might seem like hyperbole to claim that, in the 5G and future eras, all device access will be untethered. Not most; all.
So here’s the logic: “access” increasingly means the way a device or person reaches the core network. Though there is a specific definition within telecommunications for that part of the network, the meaning of “access” is changing.
Increasingly, a short to very-short (tens of meters to hundreds of meters) wireless connection of some kind connects any device (consumer or enterprise) to the core network. That core network includes what we used to call the transport (long haul), distribution (metro) and access (central office or headend to user location) parts of the network.
The era of cabled access (wired local area networks) is largely over in consumer domains. In enterprise or organization settings, overlay approaches remain more common: Wi-Fi for computer or smartphone access; wired networks for computer access or desktop phone systems.
Consider that, by about 2024, nearly 100 percent of all enterprise bandwidth will be using untethered mechanisms, ranging from 5G to Wi-Gig and Wi-Fi, according to researchers at Nokia Bell Labs.
In fact, just three percent of enterprise traffic might be carried over a cabled network by about 2025, Bell Labs researchers now predict. Wi-Fi might carry about 22 percent of traffic; mobile about 46 percent; Wi-Gig about 29 percent.
What remains a bit unclear are respective roles of public network providers, enterprises and third parties in creating and managing those networks. We might well assume that Wi-Gig and Wi-Fi networks primarily will be built and managed by venue owners or tenants.
We might also assume that third parties or service providers will build and manage in-building big venue networks.
But there is room for expanded roles for system integrators who build and manage in-building wireless networks on behalf of tenants. Such integrators might well create integrated radio networks supporting all the major untethered access methods, on a multi-vendor basis in the case of mobile network support.